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The Legal Geographies of Water Claims: Seawater Desalination in Mining Regions in Chile

1
School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
2
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, and Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 886; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050886
Received: 18 December 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 April 2019 / Published: 27 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Governance: Retheorizing Politics)
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Abstract

The use of desalination has been increasing in recent years. Although this is not a new technology, its use often proceeds within ill-defined and ambiguous legal, institutional, economic and political frameworks. This article addresses these considerations for the case of Chile, and offers an evaluation of legal ambiguities regarding differences between desalinated water and other freshwater sources and associated consequences. This discussion reviews court records and legal documents of two companies operating desalination plants, both of which have simultaneous rights granted for underground water exploitation: the water supply company in the Antofagasta Region and Candelaria mining company in the Atacama Region. The analysis shows that issues of ambiguity and gaps in the legal system have been exploited in ways that allow these entities to continue the use and consumption of mountain water. They do so by producing desalinated water, and by entering into water transfer and diversion contracts with the mining sector. These findings highlight the importance of undefined socio-legal terrain in terms of shifting hydro-geographies of mining territories, contributing conceptually to critical geographies of desalination, delineating the importance of legal geographies important for water governance, as well as empirically documenting the significance of this case to consider shifts for the mining sector and water technologies and uses in contemporary Chile. View Full-Text
Keywords: water; desalination; legal geography; mining; Chile water; desalination; legal geography; mining; Chile
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Campero, C.; Harris, L.M. The Legal Geographies of Water Claims: Seawater Desalination in Mining Regions in Chile. Water 2019, 11, 886.

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