Drought causes critical water shortages in Uruguay. There has been very little rain in the country for a long time, which causes a shortage of water for drinking, agricultural and industrial purposes. In addition, the water circulating in the water supply network can be dangerous to health.
Uruguay has been struggling with a historic drought since 2020. The most difficult situation is in the La Plata estuary region – the huge estuary of the Parana and Uruguay rivers, on which the capital of the country, Montevideo, is also located.
20 days to tragedy
On Thursday, the city authorities issued an alert related to the “critical situation” in the capital and its suburbs related to the shortage of water. Referring to the data of the meteorological services, they specified that the water in the capital agglomeration is enough for only 20 days.
According to local media, the freshwater reservoirs supplying the city have almost completely dried up, so water taken from La Plata – drinkable but with significantly elevated levels of sodium chloride – is used to supply the water supply. Uruguayan medical societies recommend that people with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and kidney disease consume bottled water.
Salt water also affects local industries. The newspaper La Diaria reported that already 62 percent of plants in Uruguay are reporting problems related to water shortages and its high level of salinity, which have an impact on the decline in productivity.
“No plan has been prepared”
The dramatic water shortage prompted Montevideo residents to take to the streets on Wednesday to demand the government solve the problem. As activist Maria Selva of Friends of the Earth explained, 60 percent of the country’s population lives in the metropolitan area and currently has no access to healthy drinking water.
– Why have we come to this point? We are going through a severe drought caused by climate change, but we could have dealt with it in a different way. We knew what was going to happen (…) and yet no crisis plan had been prepared – she said in an interview with the “RFI” portal.
Marcelo Barreiro, from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, explained that although it is too early to say how global warming is affecting rainfall in Uruguay, the region is prone to drought.
‘According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the La Plata area is expected to experience more frequent and severe climate change-induced droughts in the future, although initially they are expected to be short-lived,’ he said.
Main photo source: Reuters