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Open AccessArticle

Water Crisis in Petorca Basin, Chile: The Combined Effects of a Mega-Drought and Water Management

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Laboratorio de Dendrocronología y Estudios Ambientales, Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Avenida Brasil 2241, Valparaíso 2390302, Chile
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Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Santiago 8340589, Chile
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Instituto de Conservación, Biodiversidad y Territorio, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Centro Transdisciplinario de Estudios Ambientales y Desarrollo Humano Sostenible (CEAM), Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Hémera Centro de Observación de la Tierra, Escuela de Ingeniería Forestal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Mayor, Santiago 8340589, Chile
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Laboratorio de Geo-Información y Percepción Remota, Instituto de Geografía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Valparaíso 2390302, Chile
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Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y de la Conservación de la Naturaleza, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8340589, Chile
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Laboratorio de Dendrocronología y Cambio Global, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(3), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030648
Received: 4 February 2020 / Revised: 19 February 2020 / Accepted: 19 February 2020 / Published: 28 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Water Use and Scarcity)
Since 2010, Chile has experienced one of the most severe droughts over the last century, the so-called mega-drought (MD). The MD conditions, combined with intensive agricultural activities and the current water management system, have led to water scarcity problems in Mediterranean and Semi-arid regions of Chile. An emblematic case is the Petorca basin, where a water crisis is undergone. To characterize this crisis, we analyzed water provision by using tree-ring records, remote sensing, instrumental data, and allocated water rights within the basin. Results indicate that the MD is the most severe dry period over the last 700-years of streamflow reconstruction. During the MD, streamflow and water bodies of the upper parts of the basin have been less affected than mid and low areas of this valley, where consumptive withdrawals reach up to 18% of the mean annual precipitation. This extracted volume is similar to the MD mean annual precipitation deficits. The impacts of the current drought, along with the drier climate projections for Central Chile, emphasize the urgency for faster policy changes related to water provision. Climate change adaptation plans and policies should enhance the current monitoring network and the public control of water use to secure the water access for inhabitants and productive activities. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; conflicts for water; streamflow reconstruction; water access; water scarcity; water management; climate change drought; conflicts for water; streamflow reconstruction; water access; water scarcity; water management; climate change
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Muñoz, A.A.; Klock-Barría, K.; Alvarez-Garreton, C.; Aguilera-Betti, I.; González-Reyes, Á.; Lastra, J.A.; Chávez, R.O.; Barría, P.; Christie, D.; Rojas-Badilla, M.; LeQuesne, C. Water Crisis in Petorca Basin, Chile: The Combined Effects of a Mega-Drought and Water Management. Water 2020, 12, 648.

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