Monday, May 29, 2023

Research proposes the development of a national desalination policy in Chile

Development of a national desalination policy, location criteria for sustainable use of the marine-terrestrial sector and a specific regulation with environmental justice and adjustment of the current regulatory framework for investment with state funding are some of the recommendations of the report “Desalination”. : Opportunities and Challenges for Addressing Water Insecurity in Chile”, presented at the Faculty of Engineering, Valparaiso University.

Developed by 26 authors, 43 collaborators, 15 universities and 3 research centres, coordinated by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change for the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, the report reviews drinking water quality standards, monitors health problems and ensuring access, as well as recommending that desalination replace or complement other uses.

Meanwhile, with regard to the use of desalinated water to recharge aquifers or restore depleted water bodies, the report proposes to analyze the environment and ecosystem to generate unwanted interactions resulting in adverse conditions.

Patricio Winkler, UV Ocean civil engineering academic and researcher of the report, explained that they “want to reveal the scientific vision of desalination in Chile, in the context of plants that have been around for a long time. We are fully committed to this opinion , That is why it is a diverse report, which takes the opinion of interdisciplinary experts as a first approximation.

“The research proposes a national desalination policy, as there is much ignorance of the potential impacts on the aquaculture environment and the physics of the processes that occur in that environment. There are also myths about desalination that can be dispelled by talking objectively about the impacts. The report proposes generation of baselines and monitoring of plants, as there is currently no correlation between these baselines and how the environment is characterized and monitored prior to construction of works,” He says

His colleague in the study, Sebastian Vicuña, professor at the PUC School of Engineering and director of the Center for Global Change, explains that “desalination could become a solution, but it has challenges and potential costs. One of the findings is that it will reduce the level of basins. But with regional declines, it was necessary to have a policy at the national level. There should be a role for the state in setting the baseline, so we propose to undertake a research program that not only helps to know the situation, but also helps to know the sensitivity of different species and the changes caused by the discharge of brine.”

“The report is a contribution from the scientific community interested in basic information for decision making, design of public policies, guidelines and guides and laws that are currently under discussion, seeking to mitigate impacts, as these Projects Sometimes they are very urgent. It is not just a matter of quantity or availability of water, but also how efficiently the water is used.

Meanwhile, Jorge Soto, Ceremi of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation of the Valparaíso Region, indicated that “this report generates the scientific basis that we need to contribute to decision makers, the productive sector and industry. Science is the driver of those changes.” We know this is a controversial issue that is difficult to address, but we are confident that the scientific community and the manufacturing sector will have the capacity for dialogue. Therefore, we have a responsibility to develop knowledge, technology and state policies to face the problems posed by climate change.

While Esteban Sefire, Dean of the Faculty of UV Engineering, pointed out that “this report is relevant to our country because it proposes to integrate engineering into the issue of water insecurity. The only way to face this challenge is through scientific evidence, multiple -To move forward through thematic and dialogue space not only in terms of regulations, but also technically defined challenges in the medium and long term, linked to environmental, structural, regional and social development of the industry”.

The symposium included a presentation on the California case by Claire Wagner, researcher for the California State Water Resources Control Board. Finally, a discussion panel moderated by Damaris Orphanopoulos and composed of Andrés Camano from the Contamination Committee of the Secretariat of the Seabed; Humberto Díaz, manager of ECOTECNOS and UV Academic; Alberto Kresse, from the Chilean Desalination Association and Mario Besoin from Directemar.

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