Salado: The Drinking Water Crisis in Uruguay | Translation

Salado: The Drinking Water Crisis in Uruguay | Translation

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[Eliezer Budasoff]: At Radio Ambulante Estudios, we are obsessed with great stories. But we know that there are events that cannot be told in just one episode. That’s why CENTRAL, our series channel, is coming soon.

[Archivo Bukele]: People hear populism and say: populism. Does anyone want a populist president?

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[Archivo Bukele]: No one. No one? Well, I do.

[Eliezer]: The power of Bukele raises a question for all of Latin America: at what point do the promises of democracy no longer matter?

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[Daniel Alarcón]: Hello ambulantes! I’m Daniel Alarcón. While we’re taking a few weeks off, we want to share with you some episodes of El Hilo, the other project from Radio Ambulante Estudios. It’s a news podcast that analyzes in-depth the most important events in Latin America. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you can do so every Friday on all podcast platforms.

The episode you’re about to hear talks about a problem that affects many countries in the region: drought. This year in Uruguay, for three months, the tap water in the capital and nearby departments turned salty because it was mixed with seawater. Now you will understand why this happened, what the level of the crisis is in Uruguay, and what alternatives they have for the future.

Let’s go to the episode.

[Teacher Luz Alvez]: Today, for several days, we’ve been working on a specific topic, which is what?

[Children]: Water. Water.

[Teacher]: Water. Water.

[Silvia Viñas]: You’re listening to a sixth-grade class at School 262 in Salinas, a small town in Uruguay with less than 25,000 inhabitants. It’s close to the River Plate, about 40 kilometers from Montevideo.

[Eliezer Budasoff]: School 262 is a public school with around 600 students. There are 29 students in this class. Their teacher, Luz Álvez, has been talking to them about water since May.

[Teacher]: How does water affect us directly? Why? Come on, people talking, many…

[Child]: It affects us at school.

[Child]: Not only. Not only at school.

[Silvia]: These children have experienced a historic drought, the largest in 44 years in the southwest of the country.

[Eliezer]: It reached a point where Paso Severino, the most important freshwater reservoir for the region, was practically emptied. So OSE, the administration of the State Sanitation Works, which manages sanitation and access to drinking water in the country, started using water from the Río de la PlataRiver Plate. Salty water.

[Teacher Luz Alvez]: What were the first repercussions?

[Child]: When the children started having stomachaches.

[Silvia]: For three months, tap water in Montevideo and the neighboring departments came out with a salty taste. The water consumed by two million people. Uruguay’s population is just under three and a half million. In other words, we’re talking about a crisis that has affected almost two-thirds of the country.

[Eliezer]: Benjamiín, who is 11 years old, remembers how he realized the water tasted different.

[Benjamin]: It was like this: I went to play soccer, put water in the bottle, and froze it. Then, when I went to drink, it had a really disgusting salty taste, and I saw that you couldn’t drink tap water at all.

[Eliezer]: Another boy from this school, Alejandro, 13 years old, says that sometimes he forgot. He forgot that the water wasn’t like it used to be.

[Alejandro]: I served a full glass. I drank it all. And then, my whole mouth felt all dry, all salty. And I went to get the jug. I poured like 20 liters, a little more, and even with that, the water didn’t come out, and then I drank juice and spit it out. It’s like eating a spoonful of salt mixed with juice; you could really feel the salt.

[Silvia]: Families had to change their routines, adapt.

[Alejandro]: And now, my mother is buying jugs. She buys jugs and uses them to drink water, for meals, to make stews, for everything. For mate too. For mate, what she does is heat the water twice. To eliminate, as she says, all the bacteria theyit might have, or eliminate as much as possible, so that the water remains kind of clean.

[Silvia]: But the problem goes far beyond the bad taste. Drinking this water can be dangerous for pregnant people or those with hypertension or kidney problems. This is Natalie, 13 years old:.

[Natalie]: At my grandmother’s house, it’s more complicated because my grandmother has a lot of illnesses and high blood pressure and stuff. And when she doesn’t have money, she boils the water and puts herbs in it.

[Silvia]: In other words, different herbs…She means medicinal herbs.

[Natalie]: Then, she freezes the water and stuff.

[Eliezer]: Specialists describe this drought as a “black swan,” due to its exceptional and unpredictable nature. What is clear is that over the last year, from May-June 2022, the average rainfall has been lower than usual. In past droughts, it was 800 millimeters of water annually, and in this drought, it’s 500.

[Silvia]: Like in many cities in Latin America, the drinking water supply infrastructure in the most populated area of Uruguay has been a problem for decades and remains unresolved. An estimated 50% of water is lost in the pipes of the metropolitan area of Montevideo. But now, these conditions add up to global warming and more extreme and unpredictable weather events.

[Benjamin]: Water is important, too important, because if we don’t drink, we dehydrate. We need water to cook, bathe, an element that is the most important in the country, in Uruguay, water.

[Eliezer]: Welcome to El Hhilo, a podcast from Radio Ambulante Estudios. I’m Eliezer Budasoff.

[Silvia]: And I’m Silvia Viñas.

[Eliezer]: Today, an exceptional drought has led Uruguay into an unprecedented water crisis, highlighting the country’s infrastructure issuesproblems for providing drinking water.

It’s August 4, 2023.

[Silvia]: Salinas is traversed by a road that divides the town into two large parts: one is along the beach, and the other to the north,… where School 262 is located.

[Eliezer]: Our producer Nausícaa Palomeque and our fact-checker Bruno Scelza visited the place and continue telling us:.

[Nausícaa]: Do the rest of you have pets, animals?

[Junior]: I have seven dogs.

[Nausícaa]: Wow.

[Child]: I also have seven.

[Girl]: I have five dogs and five cats.

[Nausícaa]: And how do you take care of themthe animals regarding the water issue for the animals?

[Girl]: I have two kittens and a rabbit. We give them bottled water.

[Nausícaa]: Do you give bottled water to the kittens and the rabbit?

[Girl]: Yes.

[Girl]: I found out that they mess up the tap water for the cats, you know? They damage it, and even they drink rainwater.

[Girl]: I do the same as Martina said, that when it rains, we collect the water, and I give it to the dogs and cats.

[Bruno]: These students go to School 262 in the morning shift, and they’ve been working on a special project.

[Luz]: What chronicles did you write the other day and why, people?

[Nausícaa]: Teacher Luz Álvez started teaching at this school last year. Since then, she has had a chronicle project. Her students write about current events, their neighborhood, school, and now, they write about water.

[Junior]: Chronicle:, the water problems. In Uruguay, a problem with water had never arisen as significantbig as this. The water from OSE is now salty since the rivers, lagoons, and streams started to dry up due to the heat and lack of rain.

[Luz Álvez]: Well, we aim for them to be critical citizens, to have their thoughts, and to be able to defend their opinions. And, Wwell, this is a point that affects us all, so let them draw their conclusions.

[Bruno]: But to write their chronicles, like the one we just heard from Junior, 12 years old, they had to conduct interviews. For example, Junior and Renata, 11 years old, talked to Judith Aranda, the worker who prepares the milk for breakfast.

[Junior]: I asked her questions, for example, what had changed in the dining room, in the water, and she said they used OSE water before.

[Nausícaa]: Remember that OSE is the state agency that manages drinking water. And when they say “OSE water,” they refer to the water that comes through the tap, which is now a mixture of fresh and salty water.

[Junior]:  But not anymore, I mean, now they use bottled water to make meals and things like that.

[Junior]: What problems did it cause for preparing the milk?

[Judith Aranda]: Changing the water,; instead of using OSE, we use Salus water.

[Bruno]: Salus is a bottled water brand.

[Junior]: What water do you use to wash the containers?

[Judith]: OSE water.

[Renata]: And they say they changed them at first because the children were having stomach problems since the water was coming out salty.

[Nausícaa]:  Because during the peak of the drought, by mixing fresh and salty water, the levels of sodium and chlorine in the piped water increased.

[Bruno]: In Uruguay, the maximum allowed sodium to consider water potable is 200 milligrams per liter, and for chlorine, it’s 250. During the water emergency, OSE raised the maximum limits of what is considered potable: for sodium to more than double, and for chlorine, triple.

[Nausícaa]: At School 262, the children have breakfast and lunch. So they had to adapt. Since the school is public, the authorities provide extra funds to buy bottled water, prepare powdered milk for breakfast, and drink water at lunch. And the meals arrive prepared, with the commitmentrequirement that they to be made with bottled water.

[Bruno]: When we visited the school on July 19, the situation was improving. The children had returned from their winter vacations, and Junior, for example, said he saw how the situation improved with the rain.

[Junior]: I know that the river levels rose because I went to Santa Lucía during the holidays, and in the first few days, the river had almost no water. But after rainingit rained for three consecutive days in Santa Lucía, the river was full again.

[Teacher]: Did you see how the river’s appearance changed? Were you in that area?

[Junior]: Yes.

[Teacher]: Look, that’s great.

[Bruno]:  That morning, they interviewed the visual arts teacher, Ximena Aguiar.

[Child]: When, recently, it had already affected you that the water couldn’t be consumed, but you didn’t know,. Hhow did you manage to drink water and all that?

[Ximena Aguiar]: I was having tea and was thirsty. I drank more tea, and I was thirstier, and I drank more tea, and I was thirstier… because the tea was salty. I went to bed with a dry mouth, and I said, “nNo, it can’t be. Tomorrow, I’ll buy a water container.”

[Bruno]: Ximena told them how they filter rainwater and how they’ve organized in the neighborhood to stay informed, search for well water, and distribute water. They fill containers for about 15 families in the area.

[Ximena]: We started notifying, “lLook, there’s a well in Marindia where you can go to get water.” There’s a well in El Pinar, and then this place, this little field is a group of families that have an organically cultivated field. We asked ifwhether we could go get water; they have a 40-meter well. There. Yes, of course. We have a vehicle, so we pass by the neighborhood groups; we’re going to get water. Wednesday, this afternoon, we’re going to do that, we’re going to get water. So, Monday and Tuesday, they brought us containers, three containers per… we take three containers per household, and more people can participate thisthat way. And we go. She has a pump and a thick hose, like this, so she fills all the containers. And in the afternoon, people start coming to pick them up.

[Nausícaa]: Several children told us that their families also go out to fetch water from the wells in the area. This is Ema, 12 years old:.

[Ema]: My mother has a friend who has a well at her house, so my mother takes water and brings it to our house, and we use it to cook and make everything. We don’t use tap water; we drink that.

[Nausícaa]: How often does your mom go to fetch water?

[Ema]: When she sees that it’s running out, for example, when she feels that there won’t be any more.

[Nausícaa]: And how is it, how does that water taste?

[Ema]: It’s a little weird in color. It smells weird, it’s ugly, weird brown like dirt, because it’s taken from underground wells. So it has a strange color. But it can be drunk; it doesn’t taste like anything. It’s okay.

[Bruno]: Many families have been buying bottled water since May, the first month of the crisis. But two problems arose from that moment. The first was the price. A 6-liter jug cost more than three dollars in a country where the minimum wage is less than 550 dollars.

[Nausícaa]: The other problem was the supply. Supermarkets sold the amount of jugs that they used to sell in three weeks in just one morning. And two of the companies that sell bottled water in Uruguay, Salus and Coca-Cola, ran out of stock halfway through the month.

[Luis]: Potable water is state-owned and public. But we had this unexplored phenomenon, which was that for the first time, potable water passed into private hands.

[Nausícaa]: This is Luis Aubriot, a Doctor in Biological Sciences from the University of the Republic. Luis is a limnologist.

[Luis]: I specialized in water in the field of Limnology, which is the study of the functioning and structure of continental freshwater ecosystems.

[Bruno]: That is, in the study of different types of water, where it is found, and how it interacts with its surroundings. In his case, he analyzes freshwater.

[Luis]: In the laboratory and throughout the faculty, we’ve had very significantbig problems, and we’ve had to be buying continuously buy water, andas have all Uruguayan citizens., nNot all citizens:, Montevideo citizens, have had to buy water. Because the state-owned company couldn’t supply potable water, and we had to go buy potable water. This, for us, is also a completely novel and very particular phenomenon.

[Bruno]: Here, it’s necessary to talk about how water supply works in Uruguay. State Sanitation Works, OSE, was created in 1952 as a state-owned company to handle water supply and sanitation throughout the country for social, not economic, purposes. Water in Uruguay is 100% managed by the state. The same goes for electricity and telephone lines through other agencies.

[Luis Aubriot]: For example, in my house, water is very important because my partner is a kidney transplant recipient and needs to consume three liters of good-quality water per day. So, for us, having good-quality water for consumption is a very significant problem.

[Nausícaa]: Luis’s partner is among the people who received the official recommendation from the authorities not to drink tap water. The Minister of Public Health, Karina Rando, said this in May, at the beginning of the crisis:.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Karina Rando]: Faced with this situation, the following recommendations will be made to the population, which we have divided into three stratified groups according to risk…

[Bruno]: Although the salinity of water had increased in the water, the government recommended that a first group, consisting of the general population, continue consuming tap water.

[Nausícaa]: A second group, which includes people with high blood pressure, must reduce their consumption of salty foods and not drink more than one liter of OSE water per day.

[Bruno]: This is an important group because in Uruguay, three out of every 10 people over 15 years old have high blood pressure. And the third group…

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Karina Rando]: These are people who have chronic kidney disease, heart failure, cirrhosis, and pregnant women. These individuals should avoid, as much as possible, the consumption of OSE water.

[Bruno]: When we talk about water use in households, we have to divide it into two: tap water and potable water. Luis Aubriot explains it this way:.

[Luis]: Tap water would be water used for household and personal hygiene. Potable water is the one you can consume directly from the tap, which must meet very strict standards and composition levels. Water for drinking and cooking. Since those levels couldn’t be reached, these standard levels were increased to fit within the range of drinkable or potable water, although the potability levels had already been exceeded. So, we moved on to a second, autochthonoushomegrown classification, so to speak, calling the water running through our taps “drinkable.”

[Bruno]: “Drinkable water” was the term used by some authorities to explain that the water was safe for consumption even though it wasn’t potable. Here is the Minister of the Environment, Robert Bouvier:.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Robert Bouvier]: The water, let’s say, is not potable, in the perfect definition of potability, which are indicators…

[Journalist]: Because the current water doesn’t meet the parameters, the measurements it must have of its elements.

[Bouvier]: Strictly with the measurements. What we say is that the water is drinkable and consumable, which is another definition.

[Nausícaa]: This approach was heavily criticized because, as sodium and chlorine levels rose, it became more difficult to maintain that the water could be consumed. And Uruguayans began to hear a new word: trihalomethanes.

[Luis]: Other products that emergeresult from the potabilization of that type of water are trihalomethanes, with a very important carcinogenic potential.

[Nausícaa]: Trihalomethanes are generated during the disinfection process when chlorine reacts to organic matter in the water. They enter the body when we drink water, but can also be absorbed through the skin or inhaled in vapor when we shower. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the WHO, trihalomethanes are in a group of compounds that are possibly carcinogenic.

[Bruno]: In mid-June, the authorities of the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of the Republic held a press conference warning that, with the increase in the allowed amount of chlorine in the water, the presence of trihalomethanes was also growing. At that time, they recommended taking quick showers to avoid inhaling them. A week later, the dean of the faculty said that the recommendation about bathing was a mistake, although he asked citizens not to drink tap water.

[Nausícaa]: While the reason for the water crisis is still being investigated, the main factor was an unusual drought in the southwest of the country.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Host]: That has caused more than two years of losses in the agricultural sector, which has also undermined food security and depleted water reserves for human consumption.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Host]: The river at the height of the Paso Severino dam, which is the main intake, has run dry.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Host]: In the last three and a half years, it has rained 25% less than the historical average.

[Nausícaa]: At the beginning of this crisis, several factors combined, and all added up to prevent rain.: iIt was something like the perfect storm. First, La Niña. It is a climatic phenomenon that cools the waters over the tropical Pacific Ocean and causes little rainfall in this region. La Niña lasted for three consecutive years.

Other climatic factors added to La Niña, making the drought very intense. This was until March-April of this year. But the La Niña phenomenon ended, and currently, rainfall remains scarce. So, we still don’t have definitive answers. Scientists are studying some theories, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

And so far, studies have not linked this extreme drought to climate change.

[Bruno]: As we mentioned at the beginning of the episode, atmospheric science specialists talk about a “black swan,” a term coined by economist Nassim Taleb, used to describe a surprising event, meaning it cannot be predicted and has a significantgreat impact. Remember that in Uruguay’s case, it had been 44 years since a drought like the one that recently affected the southwest of the country had not occurred in 44 years.

[Nausícaa]: In this area, the Santa Lucía River basin is crucial for having potable water. During this crisis, its level reached historic lows of water.

[Luis]: It’s our third main river in Uruguay, bordering the metropolitan area to the north and east. And it flows into the Río de la PlataRiver Plate. Therefore, it is ourthe main river that surrounds us and provides us with freshwater, and for the last 200 years, it has been that way since the first plant was installedbuilt by the British, called Aguas Corrientes. In fact, the town is named that way because the water from that river was of such good quality that all that was necessary was to filter it through sand filters and send it to Montevideo through pipelines.

[Bruno]: The Paso Severino reservoir is about 100 kilometers from Montevideo. Through the Santa Lucía River, its dam connects with the Aguas Corrientes water treatment plant, which is in the middle of the routelocated halfway, about 50 kilometers away. The procedure is carried out there to purify freshwater so that it reaches the metropolitan area. But the flow of the Paso Severino reservoir reached historic lows, prompting the government to seek other strategies to bring freshwater to the Aguas Corrientes plant.

[Silvia]: After the break, what measures did the Uruguayan government take to try to solve the water crisis, and what could happen in the future?

[Eliezer]: We’ll be right back.

We want to introduce you to a new series from the AirSpace podcast… this time, also available in Spanish:

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[Silvia]: We’re back on El hHilo.

[Eliezer]: OSE, Obras Sanitarias del EstadoState Sanitation Works, began mixing large proportions of freshwater with saltwater from the Río de la PlataRiver Plate at the end of April to supply the metropolitan area of Uruguay. The first problem was the lack of potable water for consumption, but as the days passed, other problems emerged in daily life.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Journalist]: One can use bottled water to heat coffee or mate in the electric kettle, but not to feedfill a water heater.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Journalist]: Complaints increased twofold due to water heater breakdowns. Technical services attribute the faultsdamages to increased salinity and chlorides in OSE water…

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Journalist]: Due to the water crisis, OSE, together with the Ministry of the Interior, began monitoring street car washes.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Luis Lacalle Pou]: Good evening, everyone, we’ve just finished an extensive meeting…

[Silvia]:  But the Government of President Luis Lacalle Pou declared a water emergency on June 19. During those nearly 40 days, they waited for rains in the southwest of the country that did not come.

(SOUND ARCHIVE)

[Luis Lacalle Pou]: And the first thing we want to inform you is that all the measures taken are based on the absence of rain.

[Silvia]: Nausiícaa and Bruno continue telling us.

[Bruno]: Lacalle Pou said that from that day, June 19, the government would start providing daily updates on the water situation in the affected areas.

[Nausícaa]: He said that two liters of water per day would be provided to about 21 thousand vulnerable families, and they would exempt bottled water from taxes to reduce theits cost. He also announced construction projects:

[Lacalle Pou]: A project that you have already heard about, which will take place on the San José River. A reservoir. And also, a project with infrastructure using pipes to have another source of drinking water, in this case, the San José River.

[Bruno]: The works were carried out with two objectives: one, to stop the arrival of saltwater from the Río de la PlataRiver Plate to the freshwater river that supplies Montevideo with drinking water, which is freshwater. To achieve this, a dam made of earth, a kind of embankment, was built at a location more than 80 kilometers from Montevideo towards the end of May, before declaring the water emergency. Then, pipes were constructed to transport freshwater from another river, the San José, to that location, with the aim of increasing the freshwater flow for purification. However, another dam announced in that conference, which was built to transport freshwater, broke a month after its construction due to the increased water flow, and OSE had to rebuild it.

[Nausícaa]:  Biologist Luis Aubriot told us that these constructions could be short-lived:.

[Luis]: They are disposable and temporary solutions.

[Nausícaa]: Why do you say they are disposable measures?

[Luis]: Because once the rains are regularized or we have heavy precipitationwe return to normal rain or even heaty rain, the natural flow of the Santa Lucía River would break that embankment, and an embankment that cost around half a million dollars would become nothing or turn into soil at the bottom of the river and therefore unusable. If there is a subsequent water deficit after those precipitations, a new embankment would need to be built to retain the water again.

[Nausícaa]: If the remaining dam were to break due to rain, it would be a sign that the water flow is recovering. But ultimately, as Luis explained to us, in a new scenario of such intense drought, a new one would have to be built, and public money would have been wasted.

[Luis]: So, they are emergency measures, taken late, with very high costs and very high environmental impacts as well.

[Nausícaa]: Because by carrying outbuilding the works under the water crisis decree, processes were expedited, and some important steps were overlooked.

[Luis]: It skipped many bidding processes and environmental impact studies. That is, those environmental impact studies were not conducted. And part of those pipes passes through protected areas. These are from the Santa Lucía River, which were dismantled for the transport of that water and those pipes.

[Nausícaa]: So, there was environmental damage there.

[Luis]: There is significanthuge environmental damage that is still being evaluated because there was not enough time to do so, and the regulations did not allow it given the declaration of that emergency.

[Bruno]: Luis refers to the pipes, which were placed within what is known as the Protected Wetlands Area of the Santa Lucía, which has been part of the protected areas system since 2015.

[Nausícaa]: Although the extensive drought was not predictable, problems with drinking water had been evident for some time. In October 2022, a group of researchers from the Faculty of Sciences published an analysis on the issue, with some proposals. Luis is one of the people who signed that text, which concludes the following:

[Luis]: The supply of drinking water in the south of the country, particularly in the metropolitan area, is experiencing increasing vulnerability, jeopardizing national sovereignty and the use and access to quality water.

[Nausícaa]: In this document, scientists denounced that the main water basins were deteriorating due to two factors. First, problems in sanitation, that is, sewage and wastewater. And also due to the use of chemicals for agricultural production near the basins.

[Luis]: This text arose from a discussion because there are some projects on how to improve our water security by 2050. And there are two main ideas or two main projects, which would be the creation of a new reservoir in the Santa Lucía River basin, which would be the Casupá reservoir above the Casupá stream. And the other would be taking water from the Río de la PlataRiver Plate, which would be the Arazatí or Neptuno project.

[Bruno]: Both initiatives seek to increase the availability of drinking water in the medium term, something that could help prevent future water crises. The Neptuno or Arazatí project was presented by a group of companies to the current government.

[Lacalle Pou]: It is the largest investment in this area in the last 150 years of the country. It is an investment that will exceed 200 million dollars and that, when accompanied, if the OSE board votes for it, by sanitation, will reach almost 500 million dollars in an investment that contributes to security, contributes to the security of being able to have drinking water without prejudice fromregardless of droughts, without prejudice fromregardless of technical failures, etc., etc.

[Nausícaa]: Authorities said that with this project, they would have an alternative to the Santa Lucía River and an infinite water source. But…

[Luis]: From a formal point of view, neither of the two things is true.

[Bruno]: The Río de la PlataRiver Plate is fed byreceives the flow of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers and then opens towards the Atlantic Ocean. If there is a lack of water in that basin loses water, that of the Atlantic tends to enter the Río de la PlataRiver Plate. Therefore, more salt enters, and the water becomes brackish, an intermediate point between freshwater and seawater.

[Nausícaa]: This usually happens in the summer, when the demand for drinking water increases the most. The Neptuno project only includes a water treatment plant.

[Luis]: Therefore, the plant, as it is not a desalination plant, could not operate with those levels of salinity.

[Bruno]: And the supply of that plant to the capital would be 20%, which does not meet the “golden rule,” a recommendation from OSE that establishes that in an urban area, there must be two independent plants that can each cover 70% of the demand if the other fails.

[Nausícaa]: The other project is a reservoir in Casupá, 130 kilometers from Montevideo. The idea emerged in 1970 but was never implemented. In 2019, the Development Bank of Latin America approved a loan of 80 million dollars to build the dam.

[Bruno]: Lacalle Pou received the work plan when he took office in 2020. He did not discard it, but decided to prioritize the Neptuno Project.

[Nausícaa]: Uruguay continues in a water crisis situation because it has not rained enough, but the scenario is less severe than a few months ago. Regarding water quality, the latest government report indicates that, after a new increase, both sodium and chlorine levels were below the maximum established in the original regulation.

[Bruno]: In early August, the Paso Severino reservoir exceeded 11 million cubic meters, still far from its maximum capacity of 70 million, but also far fromabove its worst moment, when it barely passed one million cubic meters.

[Nausícaa]: According to Luis, to know when the crisis could end, attention must be paid to Paso Severino.

When would you declare the end of the crisis?

[Luis]: At the moment when the reserves of the main source, which is the Paso Severino reservoir, exceed,. I would say, 40% of its capacity,. Aapproaches 50%.

[Bruno]: And also, when it rains normally, and the rain forecasts are good.

[Ema]: The reflectionthought that remains for meI’m left with is to try to take better care of water use, and it would be better to store a little water to drink later, because we don’t know when water can run out or how.

[Junior]: After this happened, that we ran out of water, since we thought it wouldn’t run out, and we left, for example, the tap open when we brushed our teeth or things like that. We wasted water, and well, the consequence was that we ran out of water. The lesson it leaves me is that we have to take care of water.

[Benjamín]: Water is a very important resource for everyone, and we need to start taking care of water. If we see someone wasting water, we should draw their attention.

[Kids]: Greetings to the listeners of El Hilo.,

Thank you very much for listening to El Hilo.

Thanks for listening.

Greetings to El Hilo…

[Kid 1]: This episode was reported and produced by Nausícaa Palomeque and Bruno Scelza. It was edited by Daniela Cruzat, Silvia, and Eliezer. Bruno fact-checked it. The mixing, sound design, and music are by Elías González. Thanks to our school and our teacher, to Danilo Ríos and Madeleine Renom for their help in this episode.

[Kid 2]: The rest of the El Hilo team includes Mariana Zúñiga, Analía Llorente, Samantha Proaño, Paola Alean, Juan David Naranjo Navarro, Elsa Liliana Ulloa, Natalia Ramírez, and Desirée Yépez. Daniel Alarcón is the editorial director. Carolina Guerrero is the CEO of Radio Ambulante Estudios. Pauchi Sasaki composed the theme music theme.

[Kid 3]: El Hilo is a podcast fromby Radio Ambulante Estudios. If you value independent and rigorous journalism about Latin America, we invite you to join its memberships. By donating, you will be contributing directly to El Hilo continuing to report on our region. Visit: elhilo.audio/apoyanos

You can also follow El Hilo on social media, recommend its episodes, and subscribe to the newsletter.

Thank you for listening.

 

CREDITS

PRODUCED BY
Nausícaa Palomeque and Bruno Scelza


EDITED BY
Daniela Cruzat, Silvia Viñas and Eliezer Budasoff


FACT CHECKING
Bruno Scelza


SOUND DESIGN / MUSIC
Elías González 


PICTURE
Renata (11 years old)


COUNTRY
Uruguay


PUBLISHED ON
01/09/2024

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