- Enel Generación is developing a plan in the Maule Region to create tools that facilitate optimal water usage for agriculture and hydropower generation.
Years without regular rainfall throughout the country, rivers running dry and lower reserve levels are all evidence that Chile is experiencing a critical water situation. According to a study by Fundacion Chile, 2030 Water Scenarios, our country is among the 30 countries with the highest risk of diminishing water supply, and it is projected that by 2040, Chile will be the only Latin American country with extremely high levels of water stress, due to changes in temperature and precipitation.
Given this complex scenario and according to its Sustainability principles, Enel Generación has committed to efficient water use, carrying out water basin and ecosystem conservation and water management programs, like that in the Maule River basin, aimed at ensuring agricultural production in an area that stretches across 21,052 km2 and located almost entirely in the region by the same name; and area that is 33.6% rural and whose main economic activity, livestock, and agriculture, creates 30% of the region's jobs.
Optimization of Water Use
The “Water Management Program for Agricultural Users in the Maule River Basin” came about as a measure agreed upon in 2014 with the Maule River Monitoring Board, within the framework of the upcoming construction of the Los Condores Plant. The program was implemented with the participation of Enel Generación, in alliance with the Research Center for Irrigation and Agroclimatology (CITRA) at the University of Talca, for the purpose of reducing the impact of the water deficit on agricultural activity in the zone by delivering tools and skills to optimize water use in an area where 70% of water is used for irrigation. On the other hand, it is aimed at optimizing resource availability for hydropower generation at the six power plants operated by Enel Generación.
At the Liceo San Clemente Entre Ríos school in the town of San Clemente, an irrigation demo plot was designed and implemented in order to transfer water use skills and new technologies to students in the technical agriculture program, as well as to promote the optimization and productive compatibility between irrigation and power generation, in an area that uses low-efficiency systems across 85% of the surface area, training small and medium-sized agricultural companies with fewer tools to adapt to more advanced technologies that optimize resources.
Sustainable Development Goals
The water management program addresses five of the 15 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations in 2015, which seek to benefit individuals, the planet, and their prosperity. One of these is Quality Education (SDG 4), as the program was implemented in an educational establishing and gave students access to this type of knowledge and technologies. Using a demo plot, the program also followed the goals on Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), by achieving a 50% reduction in water use and 25% increase in crop yield upon implementation of sustainable irrigation techniques.
It also met the goals of Climate Action (SDG 13), by installing a network of five agroclimatic stations to monitor weather conditions in the basin and estimate agricultural water consumption, which cuts irrigation in half and boosts resilience and adaptive capacity, as well as Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7), thanks to the implementation of an irrigation demo unit with a solar-powered pumping system at the Liceo San Clemente Entre Ríos school, which consumes just 25% of the energy used by a traditional irrigation system.
In 2018, the initiative led by Enel Generación was given the National Environmental Award in the water category by the Recyclapolis Foundation, which highlights initiatives that promote rational water use with innovative technologies aimed at sustainable water use over time. In 2019, it came in second place in the “Good Practices for a More Sustainable Electric Future” competition organized by the Generadoras de Chile, an institution that recognizes projects that fight climate change and contribute to sustainable development.
The program was developed according to Enel's “Open Power for a Brighter Future” global initiative and seeks to create sustainable value for the company. Climate change is a reality that has severely limited fundamental natural resources, such as water. Enel Generación and all of the Enel Chile subsidiaries have taken this challenge head-on, in order to promote the social and economic development of the communities where they operate while protecting the environment and natural resources.
For more information about the company's actions to fight climate change, click here.
For more information about the different Enel Generación power plants in Chile, click here.