Immortalised by a famous tango, the “Niebla del riachuelo” (Mist over the Riachuelo river) has begun to dissipate over Argentina’s most polluted river, much of which is lined by factories and slums. But two centuries of neglect and a complex web of political and economic interests are hindering a clean-up plan that requires a broad, concerted effort.
Peru urgently needs a national plan for the management of water over the next two decades, one that will take into account the effects of climate change and the social and environmental conflicts triggered by problems over water.
Three private sector initiatives are aimed at carrying water from the rivers in southern Chile to the arid north of the country by ship or through underwater or underground pipelines. The objective is to slake the thirst of the mining industry of this country, the world’s largest producer of copper.
The process of cleaning up the Matanza-Riachuelo river, which runs through the Argentine capital, shows remarkable progress. But the biggest challenge is purifying the water in the basin, which has been damaged by centuries of neglect.
José Geraldo Matos fondly recalls the massive traíras (Hoplias sp), carnivorous freshwater fish found in the lagoons and rivers of Brazil, that he used to catch in the Dos Cochos River just a few metres from his house.
Armed with chainsaws, machetes and shovels, local residents of El Salvador’s Lower Lempa River Basin, near the Pacific Ocean, are unblocking the flow of rivers and pruning the branches of trees on riverbanks to keep them from falling into the chocolate-colored water.