While a US$280mn desalination project is being proposed to provide drinking water to the Peruvian capital Lima, wouldn’t it be better to “plug the leaks” first?
A group of mayors from Peru’s southern Lima districts have asked President Alan García to speed up a project to build a seawater desalination plant in the area. [...] The [US$280mn] project was presented by UK waterworks company Biwater and is currently being evaluated by state agency for promoting private investment ProInversión.
[...] “We have the president’s support to speed up the project and, if possible, start works in August or September this year,” San Bartolo district mayor Jorge Marthelmes Camino was quoted as saying. The Biwater initiative would be the first desalination plant in Peru to be used for potable water distribution. It is designed to supply 350,000 people in districts San Bartolo, Punta Negra, Punta Hermosa, Pucusana and Lurín.
García declared seawater desalination for human consumption and irrigation a national objective at the inauguration of an international seawater desalination forum held in Lima this March . South Korean firm Doosan Heavy Industries [is interested] in building two [desalination] plants in Lima’s Ancón and Pucusana districts, [costing] US$1.5bn.
Source: BNamericas [subscription site], 30 Apr 2009
Critics of this kind of large-scale investment in developing new water sources often point to fact that it is more cost effective to reduce levels of unaccounted for water (leakages, illegal connections). It is estimated that 45% of the water produced in Peru is unaccounted-for. In 2008, water utility Sedapal, which serves Lima and neighboring city Callao, lost US$2mn daily due to illegal connections. “Too much of the water industry’s focus in the last 40 years had been on “big sexy capital works projects” and water treatment”, said Tim Waldron, chairperson of the International Water Loss Task Force, at the Water Loss 2009 conference in Cape Town. In that respect, Biwater’s involvement in the Lima desalination project will raise a few eyebrows as the company has been involved in numerous controversial water projects.