- Title: Bolivia's drought intensifies
- Date: 17th November 2016
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (NOVEMBER 16, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIOR OF GOVERNMENT PALACE
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2016 02:11
- Keywords: Evo Morales drought-stricken Bolivia water rationing
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Droughts,Disaster/Accidents
- Reuters ID: LVA00358P4SW3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Residents and businesses in drought-stricken Bolivia are suffering under forced water rationing as the three main dams that supply water to the city of La Paz are almost dry.
Local media reported that the main Ajuan Khota dam is at 1 percent of capacity, while the other two dams are averaging 8 percent capacity, which has led to programmed water cuts in some neighbourhoods for the first time ever.
Residents in many of the 94 affected neighbourhoods have seen their taps dry up for 60 hours straight with intermittent 12 hour periods to restock.
Throughout the city, residents are queuing in long lines with buckets to get water from water trucks and even natural formations that drip water.
"Six days that they have not given us water. One day the truck came and we had to make do with what was there, but the water was dirty, it was flat, it was ugly. For that reason, my husband went to El Alto to bring the water in buckets. Now I happily have a little truck and I carry it there," said drought victim Julia Apaza.
Peru's weather agency, Senamhi, has forecast sporadic rain in coming weeks, but predicts the rainy season will not start until December 21, leaving La Paz, a metro area of more than one million inhabitants, reeling from the lack of water.
According to the Environment Ministry, 172 municipalities, which correspond to half the country and more than 125,000 families are suffering from a lack of water.
President Evo Morales spoke to La Paz residents on Wednesday (November 16).
"Unfortunately, we were never warned, never alerted, from the water control authority and the EPSAS [Public Social Company of Water and Health] management. I am not laying blame. We are guilty. I apologize to the people of La Paz. You know comrades of the press, we work so much and some ruin this process, some don't take the responsibility they have as the State," he said.
Experts say a number of factors have led to the situation, including the effects of global climate change which have led to higher temperatures in parts of Bolivia which in turn has sped up the evaporation rate in lakes and dams.
Bolivia's Lake Poopo, which was the county's second largest lake, dried up in 2015 leaving a dry lake bed and a few marshy areas in its place.
Along with the lake's salty water also went the food and livelihoods thousands of residents who lined its shores relied on forcing most of them to uproot and move.
Climate change has shrunk Bolivia's Andean glaciers between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970s and could melt many of them away altogether in coming years, according to several published science journals.
The glaciers are a vital source of fresh water for tens of millions of South Americans and are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years.
Experts have blamed the ice loss on an average temperature spike of 0.7 degree Celsius (1.26 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 70 years.
The glaciers of Tuni and Condoriri, which provide up to 80 percent of the water in El Alto, are destined to disappear by 2030.
Critics blame infrastructure projects designed to open the western Amazon for investment for an increase in deforestation in parts of Bolivia.
In the meantime, La Paz is relying on temporary measures, such as transferring water from smaller lagoons to reservoirs, in order to cover the most basic needs of the population.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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