Chile mulls desalination for drought-blighted regions

Chile’s chamber of deputies has approved a resolution calling for an investigation into the feasibility of building desalination plants and prioritizing regions hardest hit by drought.

The deputies have called for the investigation to be part of Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet’s “national plan against drought” unveiled last March according to BN Americas. Bachelet’s plan outlines the government’s commitment to earmark funds for the construction of 19 large dams, infrastructure for treated wastewater reuse facilities and other measures that would provide potable water and water for agriculture.

Drought prevention works costing some 105 billion pesos (US$ 143.8 million) were scheduled in 2015.

Chile’s use of desalination infrastructure has been mostly limited to the mining industry in the north of the country, according to a report by BN Americas: The Growing Need for Water Innovation in Industry. The Chilean government’s copper commission Colchilco has estimated that the use of seawater in mining will grow 14.1% a year during 2015-26, while freshwater usage will fall 1.4% a year over the same period.