Environmental News from South America:
The Penuelas reservoir in central Chile was until twenty years ago the main source of water for the city of Valparaiso, holding enough water for 38,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Water for only two pools now remains.
A huge expanse of dried and cracked earth that was once the lake bed is littered with fish skeletons and desperate animals searching for water.
Amid a historic 13-year drought, rainfall levels have slumped in this South American nation that hugs the continent’s Pacific coast. Higher air temperatures have meant snow in the Andes, once a key store of meltwater for spring and summer, is not compacting, melts faster, or turns straight to vapor.
The drought has hit mine output in the world’s largest copper producer, stoked tensions over water use for lithium and farming, and led capital Santiago to make unprecedented plans for potential water rationing.
“We have to beg God to send us water,” said Amanda Carrasco, a 54-year-old who lives near the Penuelas reservoir and recalls line fishing in the waters for local pejerrey fish. “I’ve never seen it like this. There’s been less water before, but not like now.”
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