SANTIAGO – Three million people living in Santiago out of a total 6.2 million inhabitants were left without drinking water starting noon Saturday due to the “extreme turbidity” of the Maipo and Mapocho Rivers that supply the city, following the bad weather affecting the central part of the country.
Because of that problem, the Metropolitan Administration decreed a “red alert” for the greater Santiago area.
The measure permits the mobilization of “all necessary and available resources in order to control the situation, given the extent and severity of water conditions,” the national emergency management office of the Interior Ministry said.
“We are activating the emergency plan that we had prepared for such an eventuality. Last year we acquired special ponds for the accumulation of water and we have activated a network of cistern trucks which number around 60,” said the administrator of the metropolitan region, Claudio Orrego.
He said that the emergency network in the metropolitan region has been totally activated and that a technical committee will take charge of indicating the specific places the water should be delivered.
The Aguas Andinas company, which provides drinking water to the Chilean capital, confirmed in a statement in the early hours that starting noon Saturday it was cutting off the supply to 27 neighborhoods out of the 52 in the Santiago metropolitan region, without yet knowing when the water could be turned back on again.
“The turbidity of the Mapocho and Maipo Rivers reached extreme levels” which at 8:00 a.m. Saturday topped 65,000 UNT (units of turbidity), the company said.
Because of that, Aguas Andinas decided “to shut down its production plants” and make an unscheduled, progressive cut-off of drinking water in different parts of the city,” the statement said.
Notable among the neighborhoods affected are Las Condes, Providencia, downtown Santiago, San Bernardo, Estacion Central, Puente Alto, Cerrillos, Ñuñoa and Pudahuel, among others.
Waters of the Maipo and Mapocho Rivers became extremely turbid due to the bad weather affecting Chile’s central area, which could get worse in the coming hours according to the latest meteorological report.