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Chilean city to meet entire drinking water demand from desalination plants

8 January 2013

Chilean city of Copiapó may become second city in the country to produce 100% drinkable water from desalination plants

The Chilean northern city of Copiapó is expected to become the second city in the country, after Antofagasta, to produce 100% drinkable water from its desalination facilities.

Copiapó is one of the few cities in the world that is producing freshwater only from the desalination plants.

Universidad Católica de Chile professor Guillermo Donoso was quoted by Business News Americas as saying that the city of Copiapó was facing water problem issues due to depletion of Copiapó aquifer.

"I think there are already some pre-feasibility studies on this issue, and I see it as a viable alternative for Copiapó."

"I think there are already some pre-feasibility studies on this issue, and I see it as a viable alternative for Copiapó," Donoso added.

The government and local utility Aguas Chañar in August 2012 announced a multi-year approach to solve the severe water shortage problem in the region.

Construction of desalination plant, with an initial capacity of 450l and an expandable capacity up to 900l is a part of the long-term strategy.

The government expects the plant to be operational in 2017, while the second stage will begin operations in 2022.

Upon opening of the $120m Desaladora Sur plant in Antofagasta, the capital of neighbouring region II will become Latin America's first city to produce 100% of its potable water from desalination plants.

The plant will use reverse osmosis technology to produce an estimated 1,000l of drinkable water.

Construction of the facility will include building a 10m-diameter seawater intake system and a 2.4km long pipeline to transport water to Chile's region II Aguas Antofagasta water utility's storage tanks.

The water utility is currently awaiting an environmental permit to move ahead and call for an international tender for the construction works.


Image: Chilean city of Copiapó may become second city in the country to produce 100% drinkable water from desalination plants. Photo: courtesy of Derek Jensen (Tysto).