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1 minute read

Chilean water utilities are planning to invest over US$400mn this year

Chilean water utilities are planning to invest over US$400mn this year to address an increasingly challenging environment marked by climate change and doubts about desalination and water reuse.

Water utilities association Andess told BNamericas that “60% [of 2024 investments] correspond to infrastructure to deliver potable water to the population.”

Between 2010 and 2020, Chilean water utilities invested over US$1.68bn in climate change adaptation measures, as a record drought has strained reserves and prompted companies to seek alternative supply sources.

Desalination emerged as the most attractive option, with plants supplying potable water to consumers in AntofagastaTocopilla and Copiapó, while the government will build plants in Coquimbo and Rancagua under the concessions model.

But the alternatives also have raised concerns about consumer rates, with the head of regulator SISSJorge Rivas, telling a recent event that desalination and wastewater reuse could result in bills rising as much as 100%, which would lead to sociopolitical conflict.

Andess said the impact on rates is an evaluation factor for desalination and reuse projects, and that these decisions are being made alongside public authorities.

Recently, utilities have also stepped up investments to prevent water losses throughout their networks and implemented campaigns to create public awareness about water management.

“Water companies have been working for years so that Chile’s cities aren’t lacking potable water nor sanitation. That’s a task for all residents in a water basin and everyone must do their part,” Andess said. 

The association also highlighted that public-private cooperation has been key, and that it has helped the country achieve a 100% wastewater treatment rate, adding that this model will be needed to continue investments to face climate change.

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