Availability for agriculture: Water is scarce this season

* The III and IV Region have assured water, but Maule is more complicated. Experts call to save on distribution for the summer. The luvias are expected to arrive in June.

Although farmers are still waiting for rain, to alleviate the deficit of the first five months of this year, specialists project that they would only arrive with more force to the central zone in June, without the certainty that they are enough to cover what It did not fall in the fall anymore.

Unlike other years, the withdrawal of the Pacific Ocean from the La Niña phenomenon - which explained the cold conditions of the first quarter - has given way to neutral characteristics for winter, which make it more difficult to predict if rains will be scarce or abundant, as well as falling snow.

The latest report from the Chilean Meteorological Directorate, with forecasts for May, June and July, says that between the Metropolitan and Biobío regions there will be below normal rainfall, and between Coquimbo and Valparaíso there could be normal rainfall, as in La Araucanía .

In the south, meanwhile, they would be normal volumes between Los Ríos and Aysén, and more than normal in Magallanes.

«This forecast does not measure specific events, but the general conditions, and we see rainfall conditions under normal for the central zone, which is not good news to recover the deficit that already exists«explains the specialist from the Agricultural Meteorology Section of the Chilean Meteorological Directorate, María Carolina Vidal.

From the Metropolitan Region to the north, the current rainfall deficit is 90% compared to an average year, which goes down to the south, with 70% and 50% lower levels than normal in O'Higgins and Maule, respectively, and normal conditions from Biobío to the south.

«In reservoirs, the condition of low rainfall forecasts will not help much to have conditions for the surplus to increase or recovery«says Vidal.

Therefore, it warns that a good distribution of water among farmers and savings will be key for the next irrigation season.

Deficit reservoirs

Although it is too early to assure what the final condition of the reservoirs will be for the irrigation season, specialists agree that the rains and accumulation of snow expected for the winter would serve to maintain current levels, but not to recover their historical average levels.

According to the General Directorate of Water (DGA), together they have a deficit of 38% in relation to their averages, where the highest losses occur in mixed reservoirs -which are dedicated to irrigation and generation-, with levels 61% lower than the normal. In spite of that, in a report they say that the reservoirs that only destine to the irrigation have a surplus of 45%.

The head of the Division of Hydrology of the DGA, Javier Narbona, warns that the deficit could be reversed in some cases, because there is no shortage of such large volumes of water.

«From the point of view of irrigation, the important thing is that the most favored large reservoirs, which have reserves for more than a year, are those of the III and IV Region. In those areas they have no problems«he says, and highlights that this result has to do with the management of the monitoring and user boards.

In Maule and Biobío the situation is more complex for Laguna del Maule and Lago Laja, which would need at least three years with normal rains to return to their averages.


Although the projections speak of a winter with low rainfall, which could be reversed, due to the unpredictability of neutral years, specialists call for farmers to organize and focus on the efficient use of water to avoid problems. in summer.

«The organization is key. There is not always the possibility of saving water, but it is better to use it, and in this the user organizations are key«comments Javier Narbona.

Fernando Santibáñez, director of the Agrimed center of the University of Chile, considers that it is a year to be cautious. «In years like this, good programming is required. The recommendation is to start the irrigation season very austere, and put in the worst scenario, because it is a year where producers are going to be on the limit with water", He says.

It warns that the zones that could pass through more critical periods in the irrigation season would be Valparaíso, which does not have reservoirs, and Maule.

However, from the DGA, Javier Narbona insists that there is still a space to see what will happen in the coming months, so you do not have to be pessimistic.

Source: Revista del Campo

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