Senator Guido Girardi, chairman of the Committee on the Environment and author of the law that establishes a constitutional reform to recover water as a national good for public use, points out that the water crisis it deal with the country is much more serious than the government’s diagnosis.
So he called the proposal in this area insufficient and asked the Executive to support its legal initiative to make water a national good for public use with priority for human consumption, as well as regulations that seek to protect glaciers , take measures to care for and refill natural aquifers and promote «national policies for greywater recycling and seawater desalination».
DOES NOT TAKE THE POWERFUL
Senator Girardi said that «the most serious problem that humanity is going to have, and in Chile in particular, is the water crisis. Global warming will deepen and we are only at the beginning of a great mega-drought caused by the rise of only one temperature level in 170 years.»
He added that «after the failures of the Paris COP and COP25 Science states that over the next 30 years the temperature can rise by 2 or 3 degrees. A few years ago the rainfall in Santiago was 300 ml, this year it was 82 ml and it is most likely that in the future it will be even lower».
He stated that «in this context the measures announced by the Government to deal with the water crisis are absolutely insufficient because they do not touch the powerful. There are already 150 communities in the country that must live off cistern trucks, so establishing water as a human right is a central element of equity in the immediate future.»
The senator recalled that «until 1980 water was a national good for public use and belonged to the whole of society, as is the case in most civilized countries on the planet. That year Chileans were expropriated from their water rights, which, free of charge, were handed over to large economic groups.»
He said that «President Bachelet submitted an amendment to the Water Code which stated that it was again a national good for public use, but the OOPP minister of the current government (Juan Andrés Fontaine) suggested that these rights should be in perpetuity.»
For the parliamentarian «the water must be again of all Chileans and for that we must amend the Water Code and reform the Constitution. I’ve already submitted a project in that direction (…) because water inequity can mean living or dying.»
Girardi regretted that «in the entire Government’s proposal there is not a word on it. It’s not enough to say, ‘We’re drying out.’ We know that and it’s going to be worse. It is not enough to say ‘water must be taken care of’ if the ones that are wrong occupying it are the economic groups that expropriated it.»
He clarified that «no one is going to have the water removed but it can be regulated and priority to use, take it away from speculators, not be moved from one place to another and destroy an ecosystem.»
GREY WATERS AND GLACIARES
The senator said you should «start a much more rigorous policy, you can’t water parks and squares or wash cars and streets with drinking water. That is a crime and should be intended exclusively for human consumption, so we are considering a national water recycling policy. Let’s separate the sewage (W.C.) from the gray water (dishwasher and personal toilet) and reuse it in irrigation or washing.»
He also recalled that «I introduced a law to protect glaciers and miners, along with large companies, are sabotaging it. Glaciers in the central part of the country, where 70% of the population lives, are outside the Protected Wilderness Areas are and have no protection.»
He added that «glaciers are free reservoirs that can supply us with water between September and May, and thus protecting them is a priority. It is regrettable that the Government prefers to protect the interests of businesses.»
He also said that «we have to fill in the natural aquifers by prohibiting the extraction of unregulated leaf soil and the destruction of the plant cover because every drop of rain must be taken care of so that it infiltrates.»
DESALATION AND SCIENCE
And finally, the MP PpD stated that «large miners or agricultural companies of rosebeats or cherry trees will have to develop their projects with desalinated water. Chile has to enter into a national policy of desalinated water and we have the largest and cheapest solar energy in the world and we are more sea than land. Science must be put at the service of developing the most efficient desalination technology, because for every liter of desalinated water there are 35 ml of salt and you have to solve it because you can’t go back to the sea and alter the ecosystem.»
He stated that «all this requires a comprehensive policy, it is not enough to say ‘We are drying up’ because we are going to dry out a lot more. We are tired of slogans, we have to take concrete action before it is too late.»
And he criticized that «on the part of the Government there is an absolute lack of vision, awareness, responsibility and solidarity in the field of water and we want to continue to protect the large economic groups that are the ones that appropriated the rights that belonged to all Chilean. They demand repair and they didn’t repair anything when they took it.»
«That’s why the Executive’s proposal is insufficient, misleading and it’s not going to solve any problems,» he concluded.