Integrated water resources in Peru – The long road ahead
ABSTRACT: This chapter describes the current water resources situation in Peru, recent efforts to promote governance in water resources management and challenges the country faces in this area. The physical territory and the variability of water availability are described and water uses are discussed. Special emphasis is given to the extremely low water availability in some areas of the Pacific Basin, where population is the highest and surface water availability the lowest. Examples of the impact of economic growth on consumption habits are given. Use of water in different economic activities is described. Progress in the water footprint estimation of selected agricultural products is also presented. Agriculture is being studied in detail as it consumes 80% of the water resources of the nation and a few examples of ‘cash per drop’ are given. Groundwater resources are especially important in the Pacific Basin from the economic viewpoint and two representative cases are included. The change of the energy matrix is also affecting water uses, as ethanol (made of sugar cane) is incorporated into gasoline by law. Environmental and social issues are pointed out, and the degradation of large areas of land and the pollution of water resources at a large scale is discussed. It is concluded that a number of factors such as population growth, economic growth, change in the energy matrix, the lack of regulation enforcement, and a lack of planning have led to an increasing pressure on land and water resources. In some cases, damage to the environment and water resources might be irreversible. The background history and concepts under which the National Water Authority was created and the roles assigned to this institution are briefly described and discussed. This entity has an enormous challenge in securing one of the nation’s most valuable resources: Water.