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Chile launches river basin management strategy

Chile's environment minister launched a national river basin integrated management strategy April 16, focusing initially on pilot management programs for the Baker, Rapel, and Copiapo River basins.

Minister Ana Lya Uriarte announced the National Strategy of Integrated Management of Hydrographic River Basins at Placilla in O'Higgins Region, within the Rapel River Basin.

With regional and environmental officials attending, Uriarte called the program a joint effort of Chile's inter-ministerial committee, the private sector, and civil society.

In the selected pilot basins, the government is to analyze the behavior of water and install a model of public-private management involving all activities in an integrated and sustainable manner.

The first phase of the program is to implement the three basin pilot programs, Baker River in the south, Rapel in central Chile, and Copiapo in the north. The second phase will be to implement programs in other basins on a prioritized basis.

Citing the Rapel Basin as an example, Uriarte said the new authority would bring together interests including copper mining, hydropower operation, and growing agricultural activity to regulate the quality and availability of water.

Baker River is the location of two of the five hydroelectric projects proposed for the Aysen Region by developer Centrales Hidroelectricas de Aysen S.A. (HidroAysen). The firm plans to build 600-MW Baker 1 and 360-MW Baker 2, plus the 460-MW Pascua 1, 770-MW Pascua 2.1, and 500-MW Pascua 2.2 on the Pascua River. (HNN 2/18/08)

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