Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (2023)

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (4)

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (5)

Background Paper: Sustainable WaterResources Management: The Challenge of the 21st Century
Sub-track: Technological Aspects ofMultipurpose Water Resources Projects
Sub-track: Economics andFinancing

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (6)


Arsenio Milián, President,Milián, Swain and Associates, Miami, Florida, USA

María C. Flores de Otero, InternationalPresident, Asociación Interamericana de Ingeniería Sanitaria yAmbiental (AIDIS), Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico


Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose WaterResources Projects

Dr. Medardo Molina, Chief TechnicalAdvisor, U.N. World Meteorological Organization - FINNIDA Project for theRehabilitation of the Hydro-Meteorological Systems of the Central AmericanIsthmus, San José, Costa Rica

Eldon García, Executive Director, Floresta,Inc., Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Sub-track: Economics and Financing
Ken Frederick, Senior Fellow, Resources forthe Future, Washington, D.C., USA

Dr. Jorge Ramírez, Director, Colombian Instituteof Hydrology (HIMAT), Santa Fé de Bogotá,Colombia

Vinio Floris, Supervisory Professional,Department of Planning, South Florida Water Management District, West PalmBeach, Florida
Background Paper
Sustainable Water Resources Management: TheChallenge of the 21st Century, by Absalón Vásquez, ArsenioMilian, and Vinio Floris
Papers and Authors

Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose WaterResources Projects

1. Water Resources in an Era of Sustainable Development -An Integrated Economic, Engineering, Environmental and InstitutionalApproach, by Harold J. Day, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,Wisconsin, USA.

2. A Hemispheric Network Development as a Vehicle to EnsureEducation, Training and Technology Transfer in Water Resources Projects,by Hector R. Fuentes, V. A. Tsihrintzis and R. Jaffe, FloridaInternational University, Miami, Florida, USA.

3. Priority Decisions in Latin America for WaterManagement, by Phillip Z. Kirpich, Consulting Engineer, Miami,Florida, USA.

4. Hydrometeorological Networks and Data Management forPrevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, by MedardoMolina, FINNIDA Project, San José, Costa Rica; EladioZárate, Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos, SanJosé, Costa Rica; and Nabil Kawas, Servicio MeteorológicoNacional, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

5. Water Management for the 21st Century, by AlbertMuniz, J. I. García-Bengochea, R. David G. Pyne and William B.Ziegler, CH2M-HILL, Florida, USA.

6. Planning - A Must in the Conservation of NaturalResources: The Puerto Rico Experience, by Haraldo Otero-Torres andMaria C. Flores de Otero, Consulting Engineers, Rio Piedras, PuertoRico.

7. Appropriate Technologies of Wastewater Treatment forSustainable Development, by Ernesto Perez, Environmental ProtectionAgency, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Sub-track: Economics and Financing

8. Water Markets and other Mechanisms to Decentralize WaterManagement, by Bill Easter, University of Minnesota, St. Paul,Minnesota, USA.

9. Financing Investments in Water Supply andSanitation, by Terence R. Lee, Economic Commission for Latin Americaand the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile.

10. Strategy for Developing a Competitive Infrastructure inthe Small Islands Economies of the Caribbean, José Martinez,U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

11. Designing Appropriate Financial Arrangements to Ensurethe Proper Maintenance and Operation of Water Supply Facilities, byEnrique Moncada, Universidad Nacional Agraria, La Molina, Lima,Perú.

12. Environmental Issues and Environmentally RelatedRestrictions from the Perspective of the Borrowing Country, byJosé Ochoa-Iturbe, Universidad Católica Andrés Bello,Caracas, Venezuela.

13. Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment andHealth, by Horst Otterstetter, Director of Environmental Health,Pan-American Health Organization, Washington, D.C., USA.

14. An Investigation of the Barriers to Private SectorParticipation in Water Resources and Sewerage Services in Latin America,by Barbara Richard and Kenneth Rubin, Apogee Research, Inc.,Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Background Paper: Sustainable WaterResources Management: The Challenge of the 21st Century

Absalón Vásquez1, ArsenioMilián², and Vinio Floris³

1 Minister of Agriculture of Peru;Edit. Min. de Trabajo, Piso 6, Av. Salaverry s/n, Jesús Maria, Lima,Perú

² President, Milian Swain and Associates; 2025 SW 32ndAvenue, Miami, Florida 33145, USA

³ Supervising Professional, South Florida WaterManagement District: P.O. Box 24680, West Palm Beach, Florida 33416-4680,USA

A Background Paper prepared for discussion in theRoundtable Track II: Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a SustainableDevelopment Context

Water, air, food, heat and light constitute the fiveessentials for human existence. However, all body processes are so closelyrelated to the presence of water, that it can be truthfully said that all lifedepends on it. Water plays an important role in all aspects of human existence;in the protection of the embryo in the mother's womb, the maintenance of bodytemperature, in assisting with adequate digestion and lubricating moving jointsto name a few.

Though many will argue that the oxygen humans breathe and thecarbon dioxide used by plants are equally if not more important than water,neither of these gases would be of use without water. Without this valuablefluid there can be no life - animal or vegetable.

In addition to bodily demands, there are other important needsfor adequate supplies of water. Foods harvested from the lands are totallydependent upon water for their growth, since the soil's minerals must be insolution before they can be utilized by plants. Furthermore, a substantial partof the proteins and carbohydrates our body requires comes from animal, fish andplant life found only in or near oceans, lakes and streams. That is why waterresources have played a critical role in the establishment of early settlements,since they were used not only for transportation, recreation, and fisheries, butmost importantly were used as a source for drinking, washing, agriculture andwaste disposal.

There are only two sources of water supply available tohumans-surface sources such as lakes, streams and drainage basins thatultimately runnel water to holding reservoirs, and ground sources which includewells, springs and horizontal galleries. Both of these sources are not alwaysseparate. Hydraulic interconnections exist in such ways that ground waters atone particular location may appear at the surface of the earth at anotherdistant site. It is worth noting that less than 3% of the fluid freshwateravailable in our planet occurs in streams and lakes. The other remaining 97% isunderground.

As populations throughout the world continue to increase at analarming rate, we are faced with the problem of more and more competition forwater resources primarily for domestic consumption, irrigation, powergeneration, flood control, recreation, transportation, and the maintenance ofnatural systems for the conservation of fish and wildlife. It has become evidentthat some form of compromise between competing uses is essential, since thedifferent uses are not necessarily compatible.

It has been determined that where the resources are properlymanaged and the demands for safe drinking water is met, national development andimprovement of living standards have occurred. Where it has not been met,development has lagged and living standards have remained low. Unfortunately arecent United Nations report concluded that two thirds of the world'sunderprivileged people have no access to drinking water, and while millionsbecome homeless from floods, hundreds of millions are coping withdrought.

Since many of these quantity related problems are due to poormanagement. It is of utmost importance that priorities be established for themore efficient use and management of water resources that are not equallydistributed on our planet. Inefficient irrigation practices, excessive demandsby industries and municipalities and lack of conservation practices, are some ofthe obstacles that must be conquered before true Sustainable development isachieved. As a result, competition for water resources, especially in areasfrequently affected by drought, or where scarcity generally exists, createinstability between regions, cities, and even nations. Our challenge today is toestablish our priorities more adequately and implement available technologiesthat should improve our efforts to use the resources more efficiently to avertcritical consequences due to waste, mismanagement and overuse.

Water, a Renewable Resource

In theory, water is a renewable resource, since its origin isthe water that falls as rain and snow on the land surfaces. However, supplyreplenishment depends on such factors as location, climate, time of the year,evaporation, etc., in addition to the impact caused by demands that may utilizewater faster than natural recharge may occur.

As previously discussed, there are many different demands inthe use of water (commercial, industrial, and public among them); but ingeneral, the use of water for irrigation and agricultural pursuits has exertedhigh demands, while smaller quantities were consumed by people.

Past experiences have shown that in many parts of the world,water is considered an unlimited resource that can be obtained veryinexpensively. This type of mind set has led to negative impacts to the quantityand quality of the resources. Both the quality and quantity are interconnectedin the development of water when is required to meet the demands for aparticular use. They should never be considered independently from each other,since the usefulness of the maximum water withdrawn will be limited by itsquality. From the users' point of view, water quality is evaluated by thephysical and chemical characteristics necessary to satisfy a specificuse.

If one or more of these characteristics exceeds the amountthat can be tolerated for a given use, some type of treatment may be applied tochange or remove the undesirable elements, so that water will serve the intendedpurpose. Through the years technology has advanced to the point where a givenwater quality can be achieved. However these are times when alternative sourceshave to be located far away from the intended use, since it may be moreeconomically feasible.

On the other hand, larger demands exerted by largerpopulations, and industries also create large quantities of wastes that maycontaminate our major sources with organic and inorganic pollution. Of allenvironmental problems we face, contaminated water is probably the one ofhighest repercussion. Each year millions of people throughout the world die ofillnesses attributable to waterborne intestinal diseases. As our populationgrows, the need to conserve, properly treat and reuse water willincrease.

In the past few years we have seen technological advances thatmay help our efforts to use water resources more efficiently. More economicaland efficient membranes are being used for desalination purposes and new methodsof supply augmentation such as Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) are beingimplemented successfully. Other methods such as well field optimization,wastewater reuse for irrigation or as salt water intrusion barriers are alsotools that, through technology, can improve the efficiency of use of our waterresources.

Irrigation and Drainage: Present and Future

Many believe that Latin America and the Caribbean Region ishumid by definition. The truth is that 25% of the total land corresponds to aridor semi-arid zones due to irregular distribution of rainfall. This problemstarted being addressed around the middle of the century with a massive buildingof infrastructure for storage of water. In the last 25 years cultivated land hasincreased 70%, from 8'245,000 Ha. to 15'231,000 in 1987, as shown in Figures 1and 2, and in Table 1. This expansion rate is higher than in any region in theworld.

However, there is a trend in the Region to provide more evendistribution of water in time and space, and also to optimize its use (e.g.improve irrigation efficiency) by following a better water management and otherrelated resources at the watershed level.

The economic and financial crisis of the 80's generatedquestions about the role of governments in water supply and management policies.From all the countries in the Region, Brazil, Mexico and Chile, are the ones whohave made the most important changes in those policies. All these countries haveselected different mechanisms but all have as a common denominator: the attemptto integrate and coordinate water management in a sustainable developmentcontext. Peru, for instance, is currently in the process of defining a new waterpolicy in which the private sector, government and all users are involved. Theperuvian government understands that a water market is needed keeping in mindthat water is, above all, a very important public asset to which all humansshould have access to, not only to satisfy basic needs, but for enjoyment andrecreation as well.

Countries in Latin America use different means to promoteirrigation and drainage. If we take Brazil and Peru as an example, they use thefollowing motivations and means:

· encourage theimplementation of large irrigation and drainage projects based on regionaldevelopment plans, such as the irrigation project of the Vale do Sao Franciscoin Brazil and the large irrigation projects in the coast of Peru;

· promote small and medium sizeprojects based on specific goals for regions or zones.

With regards to improvement of irrigation efficiency, allcountries of the Region share the same concerns. However, there are somedifferences in how to achieve that goal. Venezuela, for instance, has a veryaggressive agricultural policy for achieving irrigation efficiency by improvingdrainage capabilities in irrigated lands.

Other problems that the Region faces are related to salt waterintrusion in coastal areas due to excessive freshwater pumping from wells.Consequently, there are severe salt water intrusion cases in the Caribbeanislands, Argentina (cities close to Mar del Plata), Mexico and El Salvador,where the drinking water standards have been exceeded. This is also a problem inareas in North America, principally in the State of Florida of the United Statesof America.

Water and Soil Conservation

A severe problem of soil loss affects almost all Latin Americaand Caribbean states. Soil erosion not only causes the loss of soil perse, but also creates severe degradation in downstream rivers and canals(e.g. hydroelectric power plants, navigation, flood control problems) andsubsequent destruction of the ecosystem and environment.

Most of the lands with severe problems are located in themountainous or sierra regions. It might sound difficult to believe but manypre-columbian indian cultures used techniques that were extremely efficient inthe prevention of soil erosion, however, those techniques have not beencontinued and now the problems faced are severe. An important effort forconserving water and soil is being carried out by the governments of the Regionat the basin level. Table 2 shows the characteristics of watershed managementimplemented by different Latin American countries.

It is essential to understand the need to manage the resourcesin such a way that current generations can benefit, yet maintain a high level ofquality for future generations. This is the concept of sustainable developmentthat is quickly gaining international acceptance. It is basically a process inwhich the allocation of resources and investments are made consistent withpresent as well as future needs. This implies harvesting only the sustainableproduction or enjoying only the sustainable level of services their ecosystemcan deliver.

Figure 1: Latin America and theCaribbean Irrigated Land

Source: ECLAC

Figure 2: Latin America and theCaribbean Irrigated Land (Hectares in thousands)

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (7)

Source: FAO
Table 1: Irrigated Surface for Latin America and theCaribbean





































Costa Rica
























El Salvador


































































Dominican Rep.






St. Lucia





St. Vincent/Grenadines




































Table 2: Watershed Management Status in LatinAmerica

a = Location
b = Watershed management programs
c = Selection criteria
d = Financing sources


a. Pacific and Caribbean Basins
b. An integrated plan for watershed management does notexist
c. Interest in pilot basin and hydropower projects
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Basin in the Caribbean Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and thePacific
b. An integrated micro-basins program exists
c. Selection is done based on current and future wateravailability
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Twenty one basins in the Atlantic and Pacific
b. No management plans have been implemented
c. It has planned a methodology for operational plans andsmall areas

El Salvador

a. Seventeen basins in ten regions


a. Thirty one basins
b. Until 1988, 82 units of watershed management wereoperational
c. Not reported
d. Central government and municipalities


a. Thirty five basins in the Atlantic and Pacific
b. None
c. Methodologies used were developed by FAO, US AID,OAS
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Thirty seven hydrographic regions, with 139 major basins(Pacific. Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean)

b. Pilot basins in 15 states

c. Methodology follows watershed management plan

d. International cooperation and internal resources

Dominican Republic

a. One hundred and six basins
b. A national plan exists
c. none reported
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Basins in three outlets: Pacific, Atlantic and LakeTiticaca
b. Methodology for basins, sub-basins andmicro-basins
c. Projects oriented to soil conservation and increase ofproductivity
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Three main basin: Amazon, El Plata, and Altiplano
b. Prioritization based on water resources available,hydroelectric potential
c. Projects based on flood control and improvement of humanlife
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Two hundred thirty seven basins
b. Methodology available that assigns priorities tobasins
c. Social aspects are considered
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Watershed management not done in an unified way

b. Projects oriented to maintain infrastructure and protectionfrom floods and other natural phenomena


a. National Committee of Watershed Management
b. Watershed management is related to hydroelectric potentialand agricultural production


a. Three kinds of basins at high (most of the ruralpopulation), medium and low levels
b. No plans have been implemented
c. Considered all human needs
d. Ministry of the environment finances programs

Source: Report of the Workshop on Evaluation of Programs andProjects of watershed Management. Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1991.

Hydropower Generation

As stated previously, energy is one of the main elements fordevelopment. One of the most practical ways of obtaining it is throughhydropower generation by convening hydraulic energy to mechanical and finally toelectrical. To obtain this kind of energy not only are economic resourcesrequired, but also natural conditions (topography and hydrology). Latin Americais very fortunate with the latter. Its high slope mountains and high river flowscreate an enormous hydropower potential (around 22% of the world), representing700,000 Megawatts, while the developed (installed) capacity achieved is only 22%of that total (153,500 Megawatts).

Hydropower is the most common way of generating power in theRegion (64%), while thermoelectric plants represent 32.4%. The energy generatedin 1991 was estimated around 590,000 Gigawatts-hour. The increased demand in theRegion is approximately 5% per annum.

The largest hydroelectric plant in Latin America is Itaipu(Brazil), with an installed capacity of 12,600 Megawatts. Second is Guri(Venezuela) and Chingo (Brazil) with 10,000 y 5,000 Megawatts,respectively.

Latin America has a long tradition in hydropower generation.Its benefits with respect to others (thermoelectric plans, nuclear central,etc.) are well known. However, it is important to list some of the problems thatmust be corrected and priorities that have to be established, in order toincrease efficiency and supply energy to a large group of the Region'spopulation.

a. The high initial investment of hydropowerplants are incentives for some to use conventional options like thermoelectriccentrals. The latter ones require much lower initial investment but have highoperation and maintenance costs. Another drawback would be the dependence onsome combustible product that might create environmental problems and may not beavailable in many countries in the Region (Caribbean Islands, forexample).

b. The little attention given to operation and maintenance areother causes of concern. Scarce economic resources and the non existence of aserious program of operation and maintenance contribute to affect the life ofthe equipment, their reservoirs and their water infrastructure.

c. Little attention to the modification and conservation ofthe environment (fauna and flora) that surrounds hydropower projects. Currently,in an effort to assist in this area, lending institutions require anenvironmental impact study for each hydroelectric project before anyconstruction is started.

d. Considering the sui generis conditions of theRegion, it is difficult to select an appropriate technology for the efficientuse of hydroelectric power plants. For example, the high concentration andquality of sediments in the sierra regions create severe problems in reservoirs,hydraulic infrastructure and, to hydro-mechanical equipment (e.g. turbines) thatare commonly designed to different conditions of solid transport.

e. Existence of the single-purpose hydraulic projects. Thoughthis vision is disappearing, many projects were created with this in mind. Thisgoes against the modern systems approach theory which states that infrastructurecan be used with multipurpose goals: energy, irrigation, flood control, watersupply and - something not very well developed in Latin America - recreation,greatly increasing its benefits and reducing its costs.

f. Little attention to hydroelectric planning. This createsuncertainty when long versus short term decisions are evaluated, theconstruction of small of large plants are analyzed and the implementation ofefficient interconnected systems.

One of the best ways to avoid making errors is to learn frompast mistakes. It is important to establish mechanisms to connect users andproviders together, technical and administrative personnel and legislativeorganizations of governments. This is the only way to provide a reliable andefficient service and to reach sustainable development.

The Road Ahead

It is evident that in order to achieve the sustainability ofwater resources, it will be necessary to create a comprehensive overhaul of theexisting water management methods. This will require the reversal of the damageto natural systems and provide adequate water supply to satisfy rural and urbanneeds. If no quick actions are taken in this direction, the natural systems willcontinue to deteriorate, which will undoubtedly impact the Region's economy andthe quality of life.

The use of present technologies and innovative ideas shouldlead the Region to live in balance with its water resources. It will beessential to achieve a sustainable water resources management for the 21stcentury since the urban and natural environment, the economy, and the quality oflife of the Region depend on it.

Sub-track: Technological Aspects ofMultipurpose Water Resources Projects

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (8)

Water Resources Planning andManagement in an Era of Sustainable Development - An Integrated Economic,Engineering, Environmental and Institutional Approach
A Hemispheric Network Development as aVehicle to Ensure Education, Training, and Technology Transfer in WaterResources Projects
Priority Regions in Latin America forWater Management
Hydrometeorological Networks and DataManagement for Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America
Water Management for the 21stCentury
Planning - A Must in the Conservationof Natural Resources: The Puerto Rico Experience
Appropriate Technologies of WastewaterTreatment for Sustainable Development

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (9)

Water Resources Planning andManagement in an Era of Sustainable Development - An Integrated Economic,Engineering, Environmental and Institutional Approach

Harold J. Day1

1 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay,2377 S. Webster Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin 54301, USA

A Prediction

The new era of sustainable development that has begun in manyparts of the world, including North America, will stimulate water resourceprofessionals to seek better planning and management approaches. One suchapproach will be to integrate ecology, economics, technology and institutions inthe analysis of water quantity and quality problems within awatershed.


Sustainable development may be defined as “Meeting theneeds of the present without compromising the ability of future generations tomeet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development). Anumber of recent developments have stimulated water resource professionals toconsider the concept of sustainability as a central focus in future planning andmanagement. New scientific knowledge, the increasing world population and thechanging global economy are three examples that apply to many nations. Theevolving change in water quality management policy in the US is an examplerestricted to one nation.

New Scientific Knowledge

New scientific knowledge has been gained in many subjectsduring the past decade. One that has stimulated interest in sustainability isthe ecosystem perspective. Water resource professionals have historicallyplanned and managed in a piecemeal manner. With some notable exceptions, waterquantity and quality problems have been solved separately. Related land useissues such as urban sprawl have been addressed with a minimum of attention tothe impact on adjacent communities or the receiving waters. The ecosystemperspective was introduced into the Great Lakes in the early 1980's as evidencegrew of persistent toxics bioaccumulating in fish and fish eating birds (Harris,State of the Bay). Attention to upstream contributions of nutrients, suspendedsolids and persistent toxics to downstream pollution problems also emphasizedthe interconnecting features of a watershed ecosystem. Recognition of wetlandsas valuable pans of a watershed has also occurred in this time period. Today theecosystem perspective is generally accepted in many regions as a central part ofland and water resource planning and management.

World Population

Water and air are the two absolute essentials for human life.Per capita water use has long been recognized as an important indicator of thequality of life. The rapidly growing world population is causing some nations toconsider water as a strategic resource. The Middle East is the most notableexample. Allocation of the region's water resources, e.g. the Nile, the Tigris,the Euphrates and the Jordan Rivers, will become increasingly important as thepopulation grows. Other regions also have limited water and rapidly growingpopulations (Downey, et. al.). The poverty levels in a particular nation oftencorrelate directly with population density and inversely with the use of water.The concept of sustainable growth may help water planners and policy makers insuch problem areas to prepare for the future.

Changing Global Economy

Evidence of a rapidly changing global economy is all aroundus. The most newsworthy is the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA(Grayson). A more recent, and perhaps more important globally, is the GeneralAgreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT. The European Union, EU, is anotherimportant multinational organization. Each of these agreements is based upon theassumption that reduced trade barriers are beneficial to all participatingnations. The increased competition implied is judged to be the primary drivingforce that will force everyone to be more efficient or go out ofbusiness.

The need for more cost effective water resource planning andmanagement will be a natural consequence of these global developments. Interestin sustainability can complement the effort to be cost effective.


The evolving changes in water quality planning and managementin the United States have been chosen as an example of combining concepts ofsustainability with those of cost effectiveness. For the past three decadesimprovements in the surface water quality of this nation have been based upon acomplex process that could be called Limited Regulatory Management, LRM. The LRMprocess could be characterized with the following features: technology basedabatement of point source, i.e., municipal and industrial, pollution through aregulatory process which included significant construction grants, usually 75%,to municipalities and concern for uniformity of regulation, e.g., all municipalsewage treatment plants to be at the secondary level.

The draft of the latest Clean Water Act, the primary federallaw governing surface water pollution abatement, contains several features thatindicate LRM will be history soon. Two of them are pollution prevention andwatershed based planning. Pollution prevention has been a part of industrialmanagement for decades due to the economic benefits. Now the idea is beingapplied to entire communities as a cost effective way to reduce water pollution.The watershed has been used as the logical land area for planning and managementof water resources in France and in the United Kingdom for many years. Now theidea is being proposed here. The opportunities for achieving more cost effectivewater pollution abatement make the watershed approach very attractive. Thechallenge is to find an effective way to integrate ecology, economics,technology and institutions into a framework for the cost effective analysis.The least cost concept is one approach to the integration effort. The result ofsuch an integrated analysis would be a step toward achieving the sustainabilityof water resources.

The following section is a more detailed description of theleast cost concept.


The basic approach is to generate information on the costs ofdifferent ways to achieve different target sets of desired outputs from aparticular land and water region, e.g., a watershed. The target sets would bedefined as a particular combination of indicators describing the land and wateruse to achieve a given level of goods and services (outputs). A typical set ofindicators would be: population growth, technological changes in industry andother societal activities, social preferences. Three hypothetical target sets ata particular region are:

Target Set I - Maintenance of the present level ofoutputs (given an expected growth in population and economic activity includingpollution prevention).

Target Set II - Target Set I activities plus a resumption ofswimming at some beaches plus an increase in the harvest of fin and shellfish.

Target Set III - Target Set II activities plus a resumption ofswimming at virtually all beaches, rehabilitation of many wetlands for waterfowlhabitat and fishery spawning and a significant increase in the harvest of finand shell fish (both species and quantities).

The first step would be to ask the aquatic biologists whatvalues of various indicators of ambient water and sediment quality, e.g.,dissolved oxygen, turbidity, concentrations of heavy metals, concentration ofalgae, and how many acres of rehabilitated habitat are required to achieve theoutput levels of fin and shell fish yields and water fowl yields specified bythe three target sets. Similarly, the values of the relevant ambient waterquality indicators, e.g., turbidity, concentration of fecal coliforms, toachieve the extent of beach swimming specified in the target sets would beidentified. For example, what should the Secchi disk measurement, i.e., thedepth below the water surface a disk of specified color can be seen, be topermit swimming along the various beaches?

The second step would be to ask the scientists and engineerswho have been modeling water and sediment quality in the receiving waters toestimate what reductions in inputs of various materials into the waters would benecessary to achieve the indicated values of the water and sediment qualityindicators for each of the target sets. For example, water clarity along thebeaches is predominantly affected by suspended sediment concentrations. Usingthe Secchi disk measurement as the indicator of water clarity, the relationshipbetween the Secchi disk measurement and suspended sediment concentration at eachbeach would be specified by researchers.

The third step would be to ask the scientists and engineerswhat reductions in suspended sediment discharge into the waters would benecessary to achieve the suspended sediment concentrations at each beachspecified in step 2. The result of that specification is illustrated in Figure1, showing the Secchi disk reading associated with the three different levels ofsuspended sediment input reduction necessary to achieve the concentrationsrequired for swimming for the three output levels.

The fourth step would be to divide the drainage area intosubareas, representing the various tributaries. Point and nonpoint sources ofsuspended sediment discharges in each of these subareas arc identified, and theamounts and time patterns of suspended sediment discharges from these sourcesare estimated. Point sources include municipal wastewater treatment plants andindustrial and other activities discharging directly into the receiving waters.Nonpoint sources include urban storm runoff and storm runoff from nonurbanlands, primarily agricultural lands.

For each of the major sources, estimates are made of the costsof reducing suspended sediment discharges by different amounts. That is, formost sources there are several different degrees of discharge reduction whichare possible. For example a municipal wastewater treatment plant could reducesuspended sediment discharges by 35%, 65%, 80%. Costs, of course, increase asmore and more discharge reduction is achieved, remembering that, in the case ofpoint sources, removing suspended sediment (or any material) from the liquidwaste stream results in a semi-solid material, sludge, which itself requiresdisposal. Capital and annual operation, maintenance, and replacement (OMR) costsare included. Typically annual costs of each alternative are computed, in orderto compare the different alternatives (Grant, et. al.). These annual costs areconverted into unit costs per ton of reduced suspended sediment discharge intothe downstream receiving waters. (This, of course, requires understanding thetransport and deposition processes between the discharge location for eachsource and the downstream area.) The unit costs would be compiled as shown inTable 1. (Note: In that table, all activities in a given subwatershed have beenaggregated. In a real analysis, individual sources in each watershed would beidentified, except where those sources are individually so small that it is morelogical to “lump” them.) The important column for decision making isthe last column, which shows the cost per ton of reducing suspended solidsdischarge from the source into the receiving waters.

The fifth, and last step, would be to select the leastcost combination of measures to achieve the level of discharge reductionspecified for each target set. One starts with the measure which has the lowestcost per unit of discharge into the downstream receiving waters reduced. Thismay be a major point source, urban storm runoff from a municipality or someagricultural operations in a particular subwatershed. If the reduction thatwould be achieved (or is estimated to be achieved) by this source is notsufficient to achieve the designated reduction, then the option with the nextlowest cost per unit would be added. The process of adding measures would becontinued until the necessary total reduction is achieved. The results for thethree target sets would be as compiled in Table 2 and shown in Figure2.

This process would be repeated for other materials ofinterest, e.g., organic matter, heavy metals, phosphorus. In so doing what wouldbe found is that some physical measures to reduce discharges of a given materialof interest also reduce discharge of one or more other materials of interest.For example, reducing discharges of suspended solids from a wastewater treatmentplant often also results in some reduction in discharges of heavymetals.

Figure 1. Relationship BetweenReduction in Suspended Sediment Input to Downstream Water and Secchi DiskReading at an Adjacent Beach

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (10)

Figure 2. Least Cost combinationof Measures to Reduce Suspended Solids (SS) Inputs to Achieve Specified TargetSets

Table 1. Options for Reducing Suspended Sediment, SS,Inputs into Downstream Receiving Waters, Estimated Unit Costs

Aggregated Activities by Sub Watershed

Mean Reduction in SS Inputs to Downstream

Capital Costs in 1990

Annualized Capital Costs, 103

Operation & Maint. Costs,103

Total Annual Costs, 103

Cost per Unit Reduction in SS Input
$ Per Ton





























(1) Annualized Capital Cost = Capital Cost XCapital Recovery Factor, CRF, e.g., 10% at 15 years = CRF of 0.1315; 7.5% at 20years = CRF of 0.1.

(2) Total costs are net costs, i.e., in some cases measures toreduce discharges result in some savings, such as recovered materials or reducedinputs.

Table 2. Least Cost Combinations of Measures to Achieve theReduction in Suspended Solids, SS, Inputs Downstream Waters to Achieve SwimmingGoal in Each of the Three Target Sets

Target Set

Suspended Solid (SS) Input Reduction Req'd, 103 Tons

Reduction Actions in Sub Watershed, 103 Tons

(1990 $)

Costs, 103
1990 $








20. 0









Same as I:4

40. 0







100. 0



207. 5



Same as II:11.5









475. 0

Once this information became available, it could be used tohelp set policy. Legally, the regulating agency would decide what target setshould be achieved. Politically, the general public and their electedrepresentatives, would have major responsibilities. How much are the citizens inthe watershed willing to pay to achieve desired outputs from the receivingwaters? The same set of outputs can be achieved at different costs. Thus, ifmore efficient ways of achieving cost effective ways of obtaining the outputsare sought and adopted, either higher levels of outputs can be achieved with thesame resources or the “saved” resources can be used for activities inother desired sectors.

What is essential is that the full ranges of physicalmeasures, implementation incentives, institutional arrangements, and financingmechanisms be considered in the analysis process and in the decisionprocess.

Now that the least cost approach is better understood, thepractical application of these ideas is considered. Two possible demonstrationsites, one in the United States and the other in Mexico, are brieflydiscussed.


Site No. 1 - Fox/Wolf River Watershed In NortheasternWisconsin And Lake Michigan

The first site for demonstrating a least cost approach towater resource planning and management is the Fox/Wolf River watershed ofnortheastern Wisconsin. This river system drains approximately 6000 squaremiles. It is the largest tributary in the Lake Michigan drainage basin, a partof the Laurentian Great Lakes. A map of the area is presented as Figure 3. Thiswatershed has been recognized as a pollution problem area for at least fiftyyears. Details have been documented previously (Harris, et al).

Today it is the home of approximately 750,000 people, most ofwhom live in urban areas located in the downstream 10 percent of the basin. Thepaper industry, historically a serious source of surface water pollution, hasbeen the dominant manufacturing type in the area for a century. Large ruralareas are dairy farms.

Efforts to abate water pollution began in earnest in themid-1970's with attention directed almost exclusively to municipal andindustrial point sources. Stimulated by new federal and state laws and massiveconstruction grants to municipalities, near to $500 million has been invested inwastewater treatment plants since then.

The river and bay recovered dramatically and fish returned tomany areas where they had been absent for many years. By the early 1980's theevidence that not all was well began to emerge. An awareness of the ecosystemconcept emerged at the same time. The algae blooms associated with excessiveupstream nutrients continued to plague the lower bay in the summer months.Persistent toxics became apparent in the body flesh of fish and fish eatingbirds. Bioaccumulation was recognized as a new factor. The entire watershed,including upstream runoff from rural and urban sources as well as contaminatedsediments in the river bottom from past industrial practices, was recognized aspart of the problem.

What should be done? This was a question asked by many. Theanswer finally chosen was to use the least cost approach in an investigation ofsurface water pollution throughout the watershed. A one year framework analysiswas funded by a number of local municipalities, industries and privatefoundations.

The results were very preliminary and did not include allfeatures of the least cost approach. They also did not include all recognizedpollutants, e.g., river sediments contaminated with PCB's from past paper millsludge deposits. The results did show three new pieces of evidence not availablepreviously (Analysis Team):

- The goal of removing 50% of the phosphoruspresently entering Green Bay at the mouth of the river could not be achievedwithout some reduction of agricultural non point sources.

- The cost of reducing phosphorus and suspended solids fromagricultural non point sources was often 1% of the cost to remove the sameamount at municipal and industrial point sources.

- A small segment of the agricultural land area contributedthe majority of the phosphorus and sediment.

Figure 3. Location of Fox-WolfWatershed in relation to the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan and the State ofWisconsin.

These preliminary results show clearly that the least costapproach is an improved method to plan the water quality management program forthe Fox/Wolf River watershed. Additional study is needed to refine theinvestigation results.

Site No. 2 - Northern Region of the YucatánPeninsula and Gulf of Mexico Shoreline

The second site for demonstration of these ideas is located inthe Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The area includes approximately 4000square miles of the peninsula northern region located between the coastline anda parallel line drawn through Mérida, about 20 miles south. The region isbounded along the coast by Celestun on the west and Rio Lagartos on the east. Ashoreline of approximately 240 miles, largely undeveloped, extends between thesetwo small communities. Approximately one million people live in the area with atleast three fourths in the capital city, Mérida. A map of the region ispresented in Figure 4.

The two demonstration sites contain similar land areas andpopulations. Most other features are quite different. The Yucatán site iskarstic, i.e., the bedrock is highly fractured and there is little or no topsoil. The result is that there is no runoff from the rainfall. The water eitherevaporates into the atmosphere or infiltrates into the aquifer. The concept of asurface land area serving as a watershed does not apply. There is little or nocontaminated surface water inland and most of the brackish shoreline wetlandsshow little evidence of degradation today. Two national bird sanctuaries and agenerally healthy commercial fishery exist along the coast.

The problem is the increasing contamination of the fresh wateraquifer in most urban areas with special attention to the Méridametropolitan region. There is no community wide sewerage system. Most residenceshave a simple septic tank that drains directly into the shallow aquifer. Theaquifer drains very slowly north to the Gulf of Mexico. The karst geology makesit very difficult to predict micro scale groundwater motion. From a regional ormacro scale view, the long term result seems quite clear. The shoreline marshes,called ciénega, will become the sites of a contaminated shorelineecosystem. Persistent toxics released into the aquifer near Mérida from avariety of urban sources and elsewhere in developing orange groves, will emergeat the coast and bioaccumulate in the fish and fish eating birds. The value ofthe shoreline as a natural area and as an area for future development fortourism will be sharply diminished.

The present policies for land and water use are not likely toemerge as significant problems for several years, perhaps more than a decade(Anonymous). An analysis using the least cost approach very soon could reduceexpected problems in the future.


The two sites chosen for this paper have sharp contrasts. Theland use, the ecosystem, the institutional arrangements and the technology inuse are all quite different. The most significant difference, and the one whichmakes them very appropriate sites, is that one needs corrective and the otherneeds preventative actions. They, together, symbolize the wide spectrum of sitesthat will need attention in the future.


The years ahead will bring increasing demand for improvementsin the planning and management of our water resources. The concept ofsustainable development will stimulate the demand. One alternative for suchimprovements is to use the least cost mix of actions as the nucleus for anintegrated management approach. This approach would invoke the explicitinclusion of ecology, economics, technology and institutions. Many existingfeatures of both water quality and quantity planning and management are part ofthis integrated approach. The value comes from a synergistic effect of theintegration. There is very little experience in the use of this integratedmanagement approach and more is needed.

Figure 4. Demonstration Site No. 2- Northern Area of the Yucatan Peninsula

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (11)

Adapted from: Moseley and Terry, Yucatan: AWorld Apart, University of Alabama Press, 1980, p. 1
The identification of several sites throughout the hemispherefor demonstration of these ideas is recommended. The result would be a trend, inthe years ahead, toward more sustainable use of the region's water resources.The InterAmerican Dialogue on Water Resources may serve as the incubator tofoster the establishment of several demonstration projects.


This paper contains many ideas shared with the author by BlairT. Bower, Senior Fellow, World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. Blair has been asource of encouragement in exploring better ways to plan and manage waterresources for many years. The section on the least cost concept has been adaptedfrom part of an unpublished report, Management of Large Water Bodies, preparedby members of the Task Committee on Management of Large Water Bodies, WaterResources Planning and Management Division, American Society of Civil Engineers,Chair, H.J. Day, November, 1991.

The Yucatán demonstration site narrative was based uponmany visits to the area during the past ten years and discussions on the subjectwith a number of faculty and research staff of the Facultad deIngeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida,Yucatán. Ing. Miguel Villasuso Pino has been especiallyhelpful.

Preparation of the manuscript including all figures, was doneby the staff of the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District, Green Bay,Wisconsin. The efforts of Ms. Kay Floading have been especiallynoteworthy.


World Commission on Environment and Development, Our CommonFuture, Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1987, pg. 8.

Harris, H.J., “The State of the Bay”, Reportproduced by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Institute for Land and WaterStudies, Green Bay, WI, 1990.

Downey, T.J. and B. Mitchell, “Middle East Water: Acuteor Chronic Problem?”, Water International, Vol. 18, No. 1, March 1993, pgs1-4.

Grayson, G., “The North American Free TradeAgreement”, Headline Series No. 299, Foreign Policy Association, Summer,1993.

Grant, E. L. and W. Ireson, Principles of EngineeringEconomy - Fifth Edition, Ronald Press, New York, 1970.

Harris, H.J., Sager, P.E., C.J. Yarbrough and H.J. Day,“Evolution of Water Resource Management: A Laurentian Great LakesStudy”, The International Journal of Environmental Studies, Volume 29,Number 1 (1987).

Analysis Team, “Cost Effective Implementation of WaterResources Objectives In the Fox-Wolf Basin,” Unpublished report by theNortheast Wisconsin Waters for Tomorrow, Inc., Green Bay, WI, July1993.

Anonymous, “Water Resources In the State ofYucatán-An Overview”, Unpublished report by a class in waterresources planning in the School of Engineering, Universidad Autónoma deYucatán, Mérida, Yucatán, January 1986.

A Hemispheric Network Development as aVehicle to Ensure Education, Training, and Technology Transfer in WaterResources Projects

H. R. Fuentes and V. A. Tsihrintzis1; R.Jaffe2

1 Department of Civil and EnvironmentalEngineering and Drinking Water Research Center, Florida InternationalUniversity, Miami, Florida 33199, USA; Phone: (305) 348-2837; Fax: (305)348-2802. E-Mail: Fuentes@ENG.FIU.EDU

² Department of Chemistry and Drinking Water ResearchCenter, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199,USA


In response to the freshwater-associated challenges consentedin Agenda 21, adopted by the United Nations Conference of Environment andDevelopment (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992, the nations of theAmericas should timely take actions to implement water resources projects. Theseprojects must ensure protection of the supply and quality of freshwater for itspeople and ecosystems within the context of a sustainable development.

Pursuit of concrete action plans that emerged from theconference requires acknowledgement and implementation of a range of programmeareas relating to freshwater, such as water resources assessments, integratedwater resources development and management, protection of water quality, aquaticecosystems, and drinking water supply and sanitation, among others. At the onsetof a Continental Dialogue, a prime concern in launching an International WaterResources Network is to scope the potential role of such network in education,training, and technology transfer.

Herein, typical initiatives are recognized where networks arepositively supporting and catalyzing professional advancement, continuingeducation, information exchange, and problem-solving through specializedvolunteer contributions. Barriers that need be addressed are also identified. Apriority list of specific goals and tasks for the development of the network inthe Americas is also presented.


As part of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environmentand Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, twenty seven principles wereproclaimed in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (UnitedNations, 1993). Those principles define a comprehensive and interrelated set ofstatements and objectives, towards which world communities should move forward,in order to ensure the implementation of the imperative need for sustainabledevelopment.

At least four of the principles establish the spirit toimplement communication lines, such as a network, that would facilitate flow ofinformation for education, training, and technology transfer in water resourcesprojects.

Principle 3. “The right to developmentmust be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needsof present and future generations.”

Principle 7. “States shall cooperate in a spirit ofglobal partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity ofthe Earth's ecosystem....”

Principle 9. “States should cooperate to strengthenendogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientificunderstanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, andby enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer oftechnologies, including new and innovative technologies.”

Principle 10. “Environmental issues are best handledwith the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At thenational level, each individual shall have appropriate access to informationconcerning the environment that is held by public authorities, includinginformation on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and theopportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitateand encourage public awareness and participation by making information widelyavailable. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings,including redress and remedy, shall be provided.”

Conclusively, the message is clear. In order to protect ourbiosphere for all generations of humans, people must become partners that timelyexchange information. The message is generic to all priority actions articulatedin Agenda 21, but it particularly acquires a much more direct and immediatedimension in the case of freshwater resources projects, considering its vitalrole in the sustenance of all life forms on Earth.

(Video) Roundtable Discussion: Economics of Productive Sanitation in the US

The establishment of a communication network in the Westernhemisphere, with the purpose of launching a comprehensive Inter-American effortto protect the quality and supply of freshwater resources for the people of theAmericas, becomes then a prime task to achieve water needs for human developmentactivities in all American communities. The network should stem from dueconsiderations of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems which must reach alllocations within the political boundaries of each country, but extending acrossinternational borders. The network will focus on information exchange, transfer,and accessibility to address the following major themes (United Nations,1993):

a) integrated water resources development andmanagement;
b) protection of water resources, water quality and aquaticecosystems;
c) provision of drinking-water supply and sanitation;and
d) provision of water for sustainable food production andrural development.
Of course, the network can only be possible by assuring, atleast, the following critical means:
a) new and additional financial resources;and
b) development of human resources.

In exploring the best approaches to developing a hemisphericnetwork with emphasis on water resources, it is important to review previousexperiences which can provide a basis for further efforts. This sectiondescribes selected examples of past or current partnerships for networking inthe hemisphere.

The UNESCO International HydrologicalInitiative

In 1965, UNESCO, as a contribution to the solution of theworldwide problems, began the first worldwide programme of studies of thehydrological cycle, the International Hydrological Decade, IHD, 1965-1974. Theresearch programme included a major effort in the field of hydrologicaleducation and training. By the end of the decade, most UNESCO's Member Stateshad built capacity to carry out national priorities and participate in regionaland international cooperations. In 1975, UNESCO followed the IHD with theInternational Hydrological Programme, IHP, 1975-present, a scientific andeducational programme which has gradually shifted into a multi-disciplinaryapproach to the assessment, planning, and rational management of waterresources.

After more than twenty-five years (Gilbrich, 1991), theprogramme's record includes over fifty meetings, two dozen publications, morethan a hundred experts participating in working groups and panels, and about tenthousand people who have directly participated in education and training.Indirectly, the programme has brought a worldwide hydrological education andtraining with technology transfer being channeled in all its facets, fromon-the-job training to formal postgraduate education, to the technician and theprofessor, encompassing both the science and engineering fields. It could besaid that hydrological education has been institutionalized in both developedand developing countries.

Overall this program shows a successful outcome in educationand training, based on an effective transfer of knowledge and technology, withina framework of cooperative partnerships among developed and developing nations.Financing has resulted from combined allocations of UNESCO and the participatingcountries to meet needs of the educational and research institutions, and thesame time providing fellowships for students from the participatingcountries.

Water for People, WFP

WFP (AWWA, 1992), an international nonprofit, non-sectarian,and non-governmental organization, was formed by the American Water WorksAssociation, AWWA, one of the largest associations of water professionals in theworld, with the purpose to respond to the drinking water and sanitation needs ofpeople in lesser developed countries. The primary mission of WFP is to serve asa channel for volunteers and caring people to express their concerns.

WFP includes the following services: a) volunteer teams fromNorth America and 47 countries; b) accessibility to WATERNET, one of the largestcomputer water-based information networks in the world; c) printed materials; d)education on potable water and sanitation needs, including global water problemsfor 7-9th grade students; e) in-kind contributions.

This initiative is an example of partnerships amongindividuals, corporations, utilities, organizations and agencies, which cometogether as volunteers in education, training, information transfer, withinprojects and solutions to specific regional and local problems. Financing tapsthe caring of people across the world which brings them together in a network ofsatisfying contributions.

Computer Databases with Latin AmericanInformation

Specialized databases on Latin America have been initiated byvarious academic institutions in the United States. Three examples areINFO-SOUTH, LADB, and CUIDES. Financing has been initially provided throughgrants which are eventually reinforced by user fees.

INFO-SOUTH Latin American Information System (UM, 1993), anonline database produced at the University of Miami, specializes on informationabout Latin American politics and business. Since 1988, it has covered journalarticles, newsmagazine articles and newspaper articles from major publicationsin Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Summaries ofpublications in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Haitian Creole, among others,are available in English. Updating is weekly with about 10,000 new entries everyyear.

The Latin America Data Base (LADB) was created in 1985 at theUniversity of New Mexico (UNM, 1992). The database has the objective ofgenerating easily and timely, comprehensive information on the regional economicnews and analysis easily to scholars, business people, activists, and governmentofficials. It utilizes print media, radio, telecommunications and satellitetechnologies to report on Latin American events and developments. The base isupdated weekly and can be accessed via direct or linked networks (e.g., NewMexico Technet and Dialog).

Data bases, such as INFO-SOUTH and LADB, offer communicationlinkages between informational sources and a network of users with particularinterest in the Americas. Although no information is available on scientific andtechnological aspects of water resource projects in these bases, they representa complementary resource and access to groups with interest in economic issues.They can also potentially integrate their users to other populations ofcustomers.

An interesting initiative is CUIDES (The Inter-AmericanUniversity Council for Economics and Social Development) launched by theUniversity of Arkansas (Miller, 1991). Since 1986, CUIDES has been working toestablish a mechanism to encourage and facilitate the exchange of waterresources expertise and technology in the Americas, a first step towardestablishing a focus on water resource management expertise in the Americas. Thedata base is being used to identify water resource issues, and also individualsand organizations with expertise in water resources who have the willingness toshare their expertise internationally. A next step involves exchanges,hemispheric conferences, seminars, and the development of an innovative waterresources curriculum. A major aim is to understand ways for cooperativenetworking among universities, research institutes, businesses, and governments,at an Inter-American level.

Florida Engineering Education Delivery System(FEEDS)

FEEDS (FIU, 1993) is a statewide system whereby graduate levelengineering courses are delivered to industrial sites and cooperating centersvia telecommunications. The system is an evolving approach to provide qualitygraduate and continuing education to engineers at their work site in the Stateof Florida. The system was funded by special action of the Florida Legislaturethrough cooperation of all the universities of the State University System. Theuniversities with graduate programs are Primary Centers, the other universitiesare Cooperating Centers. In addition there are Industrial FEEDS Centers whichhave been established at industrial sites.

The system records university graduate classes in videotapesthat are then distributed among those who registered in the program. The mostcommon mode is by videocassette. Class sessions on campus are recorded, andvideocassettes are shipped by an express service to the off-campus location,where students view the recording at a convenient time in the presence of atutor. A broadcast system is also available to deliver courses to groups ofstudents by live television in classrooms at industrial and universitysites.

This system provides an interesting experience in deliveringdistance education, training, and technology transfer opportunities across theState of Florida. Savings in bringing people together without having to leavetheir own communities or workplaces offer an attractive alternative totraditional formats of graduate education. Financing has been provided by theState of Florida; student tuition and fees match the standard rates of theparticipating university.


Over the last century and a half, communication technologieshave brought fundamental transformation of society (Harasim, 1993). The slowcommunication alternatives across distance, with place-dependent humanencounters (e.g., drums, messengers) have been replaced by fast and reliablecomputer-based technologies (Ives, 1991) that can simultaneously network peoplefrom places all over the world (e.g., telecommunications satellites).

The concept of a “global village,” introduced by M.McLuhan in the 1960's (Clarke, 1992) has become a reality that is being rapidlyfacilitated by global networking. Soon after ARPANET, the first large-scalepacket switched network, was implemented in 1969, electronic mail was possibleacross the world. Today, global networks carried an overwhelming amount ofinformation to millions of users on the planet. Thus, the telephone, computer,and satellite technologies have effectively combined to produce new modes ofhuman interactions and societal activities. Effects are revolutionizing thefundamental concepts of speed and distance which is affecting the lives of everyhuman being and community. For instance, “face-to-face” meetings cannow be replaced by “on-line” meetings or in“cyberspace.”

Global networks (Harasim, 1993) currently include informationand opportunities such as electronic mail, bulletin boards, and computerteleconferencing. Users interconnect locally, regionally, and globally forbusiness, research, education, and social interaction. An individual can accessa network with a personal computer linked by a modern to a computer network. Thereach varies from an office area that has a local area network (LANs) to a widearea network (WANs), the basis of global networks. Their potential is great forelectronic mail, computer conferencing, and televirtuality (Elbert,1992).

Electronic mail or E-mail provides means for one-to-one orone-to-many communication. Main global networks are, among others, Internet,BITNET, USENET, and FidoNet. They are referred to as forming amatrix.

Internet connects more than two thousand smaller networks. Itprovides E-mail, bulletin boards, databases, library catalogs, chat lines,multiuser domains, discussion groups, and access to supercomputers by scientistsand engineers. BITNET (Because It's Time Network) links academic institutions inmore than thirty countries, supplying mailing lists, E-mail, and short-timeinteractions. USENET (User's Network) is a worldwide voluntary member networkwith connections to universities, government, business, and military sites.USENET offers a series of newsgroups or discussion groups. FidoNet is called the“people's network” because is mostly open to anyone at no cost. Itconnects six continents through E-mail, public conferences, and filetransfers.

Computer teleconferencing offers opportunities for groups withvarious interests to communicate by text. Multimedia resources, that incorporategraphics, video and sound, are rapidly becoming available. Most interestingly,but still in development, is the potential of televirtuality, namely, thesharing of a three-dimensional space over a telecommunicationsnetwork.

Overall, understanding the potential of networks is of utmostconcern to establishing a hemispheric network to facilitate the implementationof water resources projects within a scope of sustainable development. In fact,education, training, and technology must consider the use of the new places forhuman interaction created by the connection of computers and computer networks.A new coined term refers to these new spaces as a networld (Harasim,1993).


The development of a hemispheric network can not happenwithout overcoming a number of barriers (Kasman, 1992; Maltezou, 1992). Barriersor differences can be generically grouped in four major categories: political,cultural, technical, and financial.

Political barriers are related to the lack of incentive, amongcountry or community leaders and representatives, to acknowledge the importanceof water resources projects. These could be particularly difficult in countriesor communities where lack of education or other basic priorities and interestshandicap governmental action and effective public participation.

Among the cultural barriers, an important issue is the widelyspread use of English in current networks. Unless potential users learn Englishand other common languages or information is effectively translated to as manylanguages as possible, a very large sector of the continental population willremain isolated. In the American continent Spanish is definitely a prioritylanguage, followed by Portuguese.

Lack of formally educated individuals, at all levels ofknow-how, will create a technical challenge for the proper interpretation andapplication of easily available scientific and engineering information. Thus,mechanisms to provide education, within traditional formats, will be needed toprepare the human resources capable of implementing the potential ofnetworks.

As Agenda 21 defines it, the developing countries will not beable to meet environmental and development goals without the provision offinancial resources. Importantly, the cost of inaction would far outweigh thetotal financial costs of implementing Agenda 21, and narrow the choices offuture generations as well. Conclusively, it has to be assumed that the sourcesof financing will meet their challenge. Sources include the Official DevelopmentAssistance from the developed countries; the International DevelopmentAssociation; regional and subregional development banks; United Nations bodiesand other organizations; private funding; and reallocation of resourcescommitted to military resources, among others.


Acknowledging that timely and reliable information isessential for a sound management of water resources, a special meeting wasorganized within the VIIth World Congress on Water Resources held in May, 1991(IWRA, 1991). The meeting identified a number of critical needs that are centralto the development of sound information programs for water resources management.Because, education, training, and technology transfer are direct expressions ofinformation systems, those critical needs can be articulated into a list ofbasic goals for the creation of a hemispheric network, as follows:

a) to recognize that a network is an efficient andcost-effective alternative to bring people and information together;

b) to link the hemisphere through existing world networks intoa network that focuses on water resources management;

c) to develop and enhance capacity for networking in allnations of the continent with due consideration of political, cultural,technical, and financial barriers;

d) to make current and new information suited for networkingas well as accessible at all levels of responsibility and needs in eachcountry;

e) to establish minimum standards of quality and operation forinformation handling and networking;

f) to increase linkages among potential users, particularlyhigh-level policy makers and technical personnel;

g) to improve cooperation and collaboration amonggovernmental, private, and academic sectors, across disciplines involved inwater resources management; and

h) to ensure commitment at the political and managementlevels, since this is essential for the viability and sustainability of anetwork, and interagency, interregional, and international exchange andsharing.

An essential requirement to achieve the goals noted above isleadership, particularly at the political level. As a matter of fact, leadershave a major responsibility in the realization of Agenda 21.

Consequently with the goals, the following tasks are presentedas immediate steps to take this Inter-American Dialogue into an Inter-AmericanNetwork on Water Management:

a) to establish a mechanism, such as a Task Force,Working Group or Steering Committee to address the goals noted above;

b) to promote the theme of networks in national andinternational agendas of water-related congresses, conferences, meetings, andworkshops;

c) to promote inter-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration byproviding fora to bring sectors and agencies together;

d) to sensitize high-level policy makers on the value ofnetworks at national, regional, and international levels;

e) to develop and improve networking at national and regionallevels through professional associations and/or other means;

f) to establish a principle of incorporating a networkcomponent as an integral part of all water resourcesinitiatives/projects;

g) to develop guidelines for handling of water resourcesmanagement information; and

h) to establish a principle of free informationexchange.


In summary, a network to facilitate and enhance educational,training and technology transfer opportunities in the field of water resourcesprojects is definitely a need. This need must be addressed if the hemisphere isto move forward to a sound management of water resources at the continentallevel, within a framework of sustainable development.

Attempts and experiences of networking in Latin America byinitiatives in the various nations of the continent are encouraging. They alsoconstitute a starting reference for future networking. Global networks offer avaluable resource to communicate across the Americas. They can be used byacademia, industry, government, and the private sector to begin a permanentcommunication on water resources issues.

However, barriers exist that must be acknowledged andpositively confronted with solutions. These barriers are of political, cultural,technical, and financial nature. They manifest themselves in lack ofgovernmental priorities, language differences, educated and trained personnel,and above all, financial resources.

A number of goals and tasks are presented with the purpose offocusing efforts to facilitate the establishment of a network to be used ineducation, training and technology transfer. Efforts should provideopportunities for discussion, partnerships, and actions in support of theestablishment of a hemispheric network.

Finally, the following statements are recommended forinclusion in the Miami Declaration:

Considering that
a) the present generations in the Americas have aresponsibility to future generations; and
b) the nations of the American continent agreed on Agenda21;
c) the Americas contain rich and unique freshwaterresources;
It is recommended that
a) A continental network must be developed tofacilitate and enhance education, training, and technology transfer in the fieldof water resources;

b) The nations must work to create needed political incentive,simultaneously reducing any cultural, technical and financial barriers, so thatthe potential of a network is fully developed.

c) Organize a Task Group, Working Group, or Steering Committeewhose major responsibility will be to develop a plan of goals and tasks toestablish the network. The Group or Committee must have representation from allthe participating nations of the American Continent.

The attached Appendix introduces an opportunity to establishan initial link and mailing list at Florida International University. An E-mailaddress is provided with a message to ensure subscription.


AWWA, 1992. Water for People. Brochure, American Water WorksAssociation. Denver, Colorado.

Clarke, A.C. 1992. How the World Was One: Beyond the GlobalVillage. Batham Books, New York, New York.

Elbert, B. 1992. Networking Strategies for InformationTechnology. Artech House, Norwood, Massachusetts.

FIU, 1993. Engineering/Professional Development FEEDS ApprovedPolicies and Procedures. College of Engineering and Design, FloridaInternational University, Miami, Florida.

Gilbrich, W.H. 1991. 25 years of UNESCO's Programme inHydrological Education under IHD/IHP. UNESCO, Paris, France.

Harasim, L. M. 1993. Global Networks. The MIT Press,Cambridge, Massachusetts.

IWRA, 1991. Information Systems for Water Management. WaterInternational 16:241-242.

Ives, S. R. 1991. Managing Information Networks. Reed BusinessPublishing, England.

Kasman, M. S. 1992. Economic and Legal Barriers to theTransfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies to Developing Countries. Pp.162-169 in UNESCO, ed., Environmentally Sound Technology for SustainableDevelopment, ATAS Bulletin, Issue 7, United Nations Publications, NewYork.

Maltezou, S. P. 1992. Constraints on Clean Technology Transferto Developing Countries. Pp. 170-174 in UNESCO, ed., Environmentally SoundTechnology for Sustainable Development, ATAS Bulletin, Issue 7, United Nations,New York.

Miller, J. S. 1992. Hydrology and Water Resources Educationand Training: The CUIDES Response. Pp. 277-284 in J. A. Reynal, ed., Hydrologyand Water Resources Education, Training and Management, Water ResourcesPublications, Littleton, Colorado.

UM, 1993. INFO-SOUTH Latin American Information System.Pamphlet, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.

UNM, 1992. LADB, Latin America Data Base. Brochure, Universityof New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

United Nations, 1993. The Global Partnership for Environmentand Development: A Guide to Agenda 21. United Nations, New York, NewYork.


In order to continue the Dialogue, Florida InternationalUniversity (FIU) through the Environmental Engineering Program, has created anE-mail address or repository to build an electronic mailing list of interestedparties, H2ONET.

To subscribe to the mailing list send a message to thefollowing address:

In the body of the message (not the message subject),type
subscribe to H2ONET.
Professors Fuentes, Tsihrintzis and Jaffe will manage therepository list and mail. Parties (i.e., agencies or individuals) are welcome tosend messages in either Spanish, Portuguese, or English. On a case by casebasis, the Professors will be willing to hold discussions on issues related toenvironmental management of aquatic ecosystems, water resources, water quality,and American regulations and rules.

Priority Regions in Latin America forWater Management

Phillip Z. Kirpich1

1 Consulting Engineer, The World Bank(retired), 20 Island Ave. 1418, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA

When considering the water-management problems of the variousregions of Latin America, it is advantageous to establish relative priorities.There are two main reasons for this: (1) The urgency for economic/socialdevelopment that depends on the water resource is high in some regions but lessso in others; and (2) Qualified manpower and funds are in shortsupply.

In this paper, the author discusses the situation in sevenregions that he believes have high priority in the short or medium term. He alsoreaches some preliminary conclusions with respect to other regions that may havepriority in the medium or long term.

The brief descriptions of the seven regions includepreliminary answers to the following questions:

· What steps shouldnow be taken?
· What can be learned from theregion's history up to the present?
· What help from outside theregions would be useful?
Selection of the Regions

A particular region has been selected for priority if theanswers are affirmative to all of the following three questions:

· Is water controlcritical to sustainable development of the region?

· Does the region contain alarge population as compared with other regions in Latin America?

· Is it feasible to achievesubstantial progress toward sustainable development in the medium term (10 to 20years)?

The priority regions selected are:
· Mexico, the GulfCoast;
· Colombia, the Upper CaucaValley;
· Ecuador, the Lower GuayasValley;
· Brazil, theNortheast;
· Peru, the Coast;
· Chile, the Santiago region;and
· Colombia, the lower Cauca andMagdalena Valleys.
The attached table gives figures on areas (gross and arable)and on population (regional and principal cities), and lists the agenciesconcerned (national as well as international).

The author's judgements regarding the foregoing questions havebeen based on numerous visits to the regions listed. Except for Brazil, thevisits were in the form of “missions” for the World Bank, when heacted as mission leader. The missions were for various purposes including:regional resource planning (as a prelude to specific project planning), projectpre-appraisal and appraisal, and agricultural-sector review.

In the case of Brazil, the missions, of which there were four,were on behalf of the Organization of American States (OAS); in two of these,the author was a member of a multi-disciplinary team including economists andagronomists. In the case of Colombia, he resided in Cali 1955-62 when he actedas Chief Engineer for the regional autonomous corporation (see descriptionbelow); he also headed two subsequent World Bank mission to the country. In thecase of Peru, in addition to numerous missions for the World Bank, he wasengaged in 1987-88 by the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) of Germany forpre-appraisal of a loan for rehabilitation of a large irrigation project in theCoast; however, despite several months of work, the project was cancelled owingto the ongoing political instability.

Mexico: Gulf Coast

Mexico has 5 million ha under irrigation; these lands areprimarily in the semiarid Pacific Coast and the Central Plateau. There is littleadditional land that Mexico can develop for intensive, irrigated agriculture.Yet, to meet its growing need for food and fiber, both for domestic consumptionand for export, it is imperative that Mexico increase its agriculturalproduction.

The tropical-humid Gulf Coast is greatly underutilized. Thisregion has generally good soils and ample rainfall generally exceeding 1500 mm(Comision del Plan Nacional Hidraulico 1981); see Map 1. The first need is fordrainage, sometimes with and sometimes without flood control.

The main reason for the current state of underdevelopment isthe prevailing landholding pattern. The land is held in large cattle ranches.The ranch owners are enabled by Mexican law to utilize the land at a lowcarrying capacity per animal. The ranch owners, who exert much political weight,are moreover opposed to water-control projects (whether irrigation or drainage)since under Mexican law, when such projects are financed by the state, there isa limit to the size of landholding - generally not more than 10 or 20ha.

Mexico completed a first version of a National Water Plan in1975 with assistance from the World Bank and the United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP). In both the 1975 version and an updated one (in 1981)attention was given to the Gulf Coast. A program called “El programa dedesarrollo rural integrado para el tropico humedo” (PRODERITH) followed.The World Bank financed a substantial part of it and implementation proceededbeginning in 1978. Technical assistance was provided by the indigenousagricultural-research agencies, by the Soil Conservation Service of the U.S.Department of Agriculture and the by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ofthe UN. The first phase of PRODERITH, achieved by 1984, covered 100,000 hainvolving 30,000 small farmers. The first phase was judged to be a success and asecond phase is under execution (Comision del Plan Nacional Hidraulico 1985). Itis judged that the program needs considerable acceleration but this appears tobe impeded by continued opposition by the ranchers.

An earlier project in the region called “PlanChontalpa” was initiated in 1966 with financial assistance from theInter-American Development Bank. It covered 75,000 ha. The project had mixedsuccess, apparently due to inadequate planning for flood control anddrainage.

Most of Mexico's petroleum deposits are in the Gulf Coast andthe region already possesses considerable infrastructure in the form of roadsand major dams (for hydroelectric generation, for flood control and, to alimited extent, for irrigation).

How could outside help assist Mexico in achieving adequatesustainable development of its Gulf Coast? Bearing in mind that, with respect tohuman capital, Mexico's engineers, agronomists and economists are first rate,help in these fields is hardly needed. As mentioned above, the impediments aremainly of a socio-economic (and therefore political as well) nature. Outsidehelp should be through the citation of examples showing how these aspects werehandled as in the Cauca Valley in Colombia (see below) and in the watermanagement districts of Florida.

Because of their detailed knowledge of the Gulf Coast as wellas of the various water-related sectors of Mexico (besides agriculture, theseinclude energy, domestic and industrial water supply and the ecology), staff ofthe World Bank should be contacted and asked to cooperate.

Colombia: Upper Cauca Valley

The Corporacion Autonoma Regional del Cauca is also known asthe CVC, these being the initials of Cauca, Valle and Caldas, the threedepartamentos (provinces) of Colombia concerned. The thinking in 1954, when CVCwas established, was that it would function as a river basin authority along thelines of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the United States. DavidLilientahl, a former Director of TVA, was called in to advise CVC.

To finance its initial operations, CVC was able to getnational and provincial approval for a 4 per mil land tax despite opposition bysome of the large landowners in the valley. Electric-utility companies were alsoopposed as they felt threatened. However, the view of the more forward looking,including many large landowners, prevailed (Posada and Posada 1966). CVC is nowviewed by many Latin American pundits as a model to be emulated.

In the 1960s and 1970s, CVC was able to carry out severallarge-scale and noteworthy projects and was able to secure funding from nationaland international sources including the World Bank and the government of Japan.The projects included two major dams for hydroelectricity, flood control andwater conservation; a high-voltage transmission network; a 5,000 ha drainage andflood control project adjoining Cali that more than doubled the land availablefor urbanization; and an irrigation and drainage project covering 11,200 ha andwhich was supported financially by the Instituto Colombiano de la ReformaAgraria (INCORA) (Kirpich/Ospina 1959). See Map 2.

Cali in 1955 was a city of about 250,000. Today its populationexceeds 1,600,000. Like many other Latin American cities, the growth of Cali hasbeen explosive owing to in-migration of the rural poor. As could be expected,problems of sewage and waste disposal have arisen (Ridgley 1989).

The existing dams provide a degree of flood protection whichhowever has to be supplemented by diking as at Cali. Poor drainage of thelower-lying areas also needs further attention. Near the town of Buga, asizeable lake, which serves as a refuge for migratory birds, needs improvementand preservation. See Map 3.

Further development of the valley needs further detailedstudies which become more complex than heretofore owing to competing demands forwater, the need to protect water quality and environmental concerns. The latterinclude the bird refuge and the disposal of wastes from agricultural fertilizersand pesticides, from a large number of sugar refineries and from industries,including a large paper mill and a large tire factory, both near Cali.

The cropping pattern in the fertile Cauca Valley needsupgrading in the medium and long term. Much land is still in low-intensivecattle production, and the large percentage in sugarcane, a high-volume waterconsumer, should be lowered. The major international agricultural researchcenter CIAT (Centro Internacional para la Agricultura Tropical), which is in theUpper Cauca Valley, could assist in determining the manner and timing of changesin the cropping pattern.

CVC has been in contact - and will no doubt continue - withthe agencies listed in the table. With respect to the international banks, thedepartments of these banks that deal with the environment and with agricultureshould, in particular, be contacted. As indicated above, the Upper Cauca Valleyof Colombia can be presented as an example, many of whose features can be copiedelsewhere in Latin America.

Ecuador: Lower Guayas Valley

Ecuador has basically two agricultural regions: the“Sierra” and the “Costa”. The small valleys in themountainous Sierra are fully exploited. The flatlands of the Costa, mainlylocated in the delta of the Guayas River, are greatly underutilized. See Maps 4and 5.

The two principal urban centers of the country are Quito, thecapital, located in the Sierra, and Guayaquil, the country's main port. Thelatter with a population of over a million is about 50% larger than Quito. Bothcities, but especially Guayaquil, are growing rapidly owing to in-migration ofthe rural poor.

The Comision de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca deGuayas (CEDEGE) has been active since about 1970. In the early 1970s, CEDEGE'sdirectors promoted the construction of the Daule-Peripa dam, which they claimedwould bring great benefit to the Lower Guayas Valley and to the adjoining butdistant Santa Helena peninsula where rainfall is only about 200 mm (compareswith about 1500 mm in the Lower Guayas). CEDEGE applied to the World Bank forthe financing of the Daule-Peripa dam but was turned down on the grounds that itwould be far more beneficial to concentrate on the drainage and flood controlproblems of the Lower Guayas Valley and that, at a later stage, water forsupplemental irrigation could be obtained from groundwater. However, CEDEGEpersisted and was able to obtain financing for Daule-Peripa from theInter-American Development Bank.

The Daule-Peripa dam was completed but the drainage andflooding continued to be serious. The continued construction of major roadstraversing the region, built without consideration of drainage needs, haveexacerbated the drainage problems. The clearing of important mangrove forestsfor construction of shrimp ponds presents another serious environmentalproblem.

In 1987, based on a grant from the Government of theNetherlands, a consulting firm of that nationality began work on a feasibilitystudy. Time had been lost during the preceding years owing to disagreementsbetween CEDEGE and the Instituto Ecuatoriano de Recursos Hidraulicos (INERHI),mainly with regard to which agency would be responsible for the study.Completion of the study, intended for 1988, was not achieved until 1990; thedelay was due in part to environmental concerns which led to the preparation ofan environmental impact statement.

The project would constitute a first-phase development of theLower Guayas Valley. The project would proved flood protection to 184,000 ha,within which: drainage-improvement works for 60,500 ha; an AgriculturalDevelopment Plan for about 3,300 smallholders (less than 10 ha) with provisionsfor on-farm investment and strengthening of small-farmers' organizations; andvarious environmental and conservation initiatives.

Financing of about two-thirds of the overall cost of theproject is expected to be provided by the World Bank and the Government of theNetherlands (Ochs and Wittenberg 1992).

Brazil: The Northeast

Northeast Brazil (see Map 5) covers a vast area, three timesthe size of France. With a fifth of the area of all of Brazil, the NortheastRegion has a population of about 46,000,000 or about 30% of Brazil's populationof 158,000,000 (1991).

The region is drought-prone. The 1992-93 drought is the worstin 40 years (Economist 1993). See Map 6. In Pernambuco, the driest of the eightstates in the region, reservoirs have not filled since 1960. The drought hasimpaired not only water quantity but also water quality, causing spread ofdisease including cholera. Livestock are also suffering greatly.

In the past, families would leave the region at times ofdrought to work on rubber-tree tapping in the Amazon jungle or would migrate tothe industrial cities of the south such as Sao Paulo. These exits are no longeravailable and, instead, poor peasants drift to the cities and towns of theregion where slums are proliferating.

The Sao Francisco Valley, located in the middle of the region,is an exception. Major dams and reservoirs have been constructed, primarily forenergy generation but with beneficial side-effects through flood control andirrigation. The World Bank has financed a polder-type project in the delta ofthe Sao Francisco River. The author visited the region in 1979 on behalf of theOAS when he prepared terms of reference for long-range studies of the SaoFrancisco River basin. He was told at the time that the goal was to achieve819,000 ha of irrigation by the year 2000, although a more realistic goal wouldbe 500,000 ha.

Clearly, the Northeast Region continues to present a seriousproblem for Brazilian politicians and planners. Its solution is compounded bythe large disparity in the size of landholdings, by the high degree ofilliteracy and by the variation in physical conditions. Most of the region issemi-arid to arid but there are also sub-regions that suffer from flooding andpoor drainage. In the semi-arid portions of the region, significant studies ofwater availability have been started only for the Sao Francisco River basin.Elsewhere, there is only anecdotal evidence which indicates that water, whetherfrom surface or underground sources, is likely to be scarce.

Brazilian water-resource planners could benefit from effortselsewhere in the world under similar physical and socio-economic conditions forwhich, unfortunately, there are no examples in the Americas. Pertinent examplesof adequate size and scope can perhaps be found in China and India.

All of the agencies listed in the table have a strong interestin the development of Brazil's Northeast. The UNDP, in particular, should beinvited to play a key role in guiding and financing the numerous studies andnegotiations required in order to achieve sound development.

Peru: The Coast

The “Selva” (rainforest in the Amazon River basin)has practically no agricultural value. The “Sierra” (mountains) hassome (limited) value but is almost fully exploited. On the border between theSierra and the Selva, is found a zone devoted to cultivation of coca, a primarysource of the cocaine ending up on the streets of the cities of the UnitedStates.

The “Costa” of Peru provides over 70% of Peru'smarketed agriculture and in the past two decades has absorbed over two-thirds ofthe public-sector investment in agriculture. There are about 750,000 ha ofirrigated land in the Costa of which a third to a half suffers from varyingdegrees of excess salinity and waterlogging due to poor drainage and misuse ofwater.

Correction of this condition, and the arrest of furtherdeterioration requires: (a) a program of rehabilitation to remove the mostimportant bottlenecks of infrastructure (basically drainage works); and (b) theestablishment of irrigation-district authorities in rehabilitated areas in orderto preserve the effectiveness of past investments and carry out effectiveoperation and maintenance.

Concurrent with rehabilitation of the irrigated zones of theCosta, several structural reform Policies are urgent according to severalobservers. These include:

1. Changing the role of cooperatives (especiallythe sugar cooperatives from producer to service cooperatives).

2. Removing the uncertainties that still remain with respectto land reform which has severely reduced the role of privateenterprise.

3. Improving standards of the Banco Agrario del Peru wherebynegative interest rates provide windfall profits to a privilegedfew.

As part of the rehabilitation effort, thought should be givento possible advantageous changes in the cropping patterns. The area in rice hasrisen markedly in recent years which is a factor causing water shortages forother crops; a complication is that there are consumer subsidies on rice (alsowheat) in order to benefit the urban population. The cultivation of maize (corn)which consume less water than rice could be increased in the Costa. Sugarproduction has suffered owing to deterioration in cane quality; the harvestedarea decreased from 55,000 in 1975 to 38,000 in 1981; possibly the decrease inyield was caused in part by the deteriorating drainage situation.

Some irrigation rehabilitation projects were approved by theWorld Bank while the author was still there in the late 1970s. Relations betweenPeru and the World Bank deteriorated after that but are now beingrestored.

Pressure has most likely continued from local interests forconstruction of mammoth projects for trans-Andean water diversions. An exampleis the long-debated Majes project that would presumably benefit lands adjacentto the city of Arequipa. Such pressures should be resisted as the priority forPeru should be to rehabilitate and secure the proper operation and use of itsexisting irrigation projects.

The World Bank in the mid-1970s provided some assistance toPeru in the form of technical assistance for study of a major hydroelectriccomplex in the Andes Mountains east of Lima and which would be of benefit aswell to the city of Lima for augmentation of its domestic watersupply.

Peru is important to the United States for severalreasons:

· It is a majorsource of drugs. Its poor social and economic conditions, which have beenexploited by the Shining Path guerrillas, have been a source of seriouspolitical instability in the hemisphere.

· It could be a major market forU.S. exports.

Assistance to Peru in the water-resources field couldmaterially help the country solve its social and economic problems. It is likelythat the agencies listed in the table would all be happy to cooperate.

Chile: Santiago Region

In the mid-1970s, the World Bank was asked to help withrespect to water-related problems of the Santiago region. Competition for scarcewater was arising between use for domestic water supply and for irrigation.Domestic sewage was being used for irrigation and this was causing healthproblems.

Following two missions to the country that the author headed,the Bank agreed to finance a feasibility study which was carried out by a firm.

The region, which includes the three cities listed in thetable, is rather complex from a water-planning point of view, and it is doubtfulwhether the water-related problems have been fully or adequately sorted out.According to the UN as quoted in a recent article (Bartone 1990), the populationof the Santiago urban area was 4.2 million in 1985 and is expected to reach 5.3million in 2000.

Colombia: Lower Cauca/Magdalena Valleys

Despite its extent, Colombia has limited areas of good tohigh-quality land for agriculture. The Lower Cauca/Magdalena Valleys containlarge areas that are either already of good quality or can be raised to thatlevel through artificial means, that is, through flood control and drainageworks. In planning such works, it would obviously be essential to considerenvironmental features with respect to wildlife and pollution.

Some such development, although limited thus far, has alreadytaken place not far from the Caribbean port cities of Barranquilla, Cartagenaand Santa Marta. (The upper part of the region is adjacent to Medellin,Colombia's second city, with a population of 2.2 million.) In the late 1970s,the Government of Colombia expressed an interest in development of the regionand obtained some technical assistance from the Netherlands Government for thispurpose. On that occasion, the World Bank also sent a mission, headed by theauthor.

A good source of information with respect to the currentstatus of the region would be Carlos S. Ospina, head of a consulting firm“INGETEC” of Bogota. Mr. Ospina is an eminent Colombia engineerrecently honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and has familiaritywith all aspects of water-resource Planning in Colombia.

Other Regions

Other regions will no doubt be suggested but are not likely tohave a relatively high priority, at least in the short term. These are describedbriefly in the rest of this paper.

Brazil: The Pantanal

This vast wetland of 469,000 km2 has an extentabout 40 times that of the Everglades! Half of the Pantanal is in a remotesouthwestern comer of Brazil, with the other half in Paraguay (see Map 7). ThePantanal has rich resources in terms of wildlife, cattle, minerals andpotentially highly productive agriculture and is astride of a proposed pipelinelinking important natural-gas fields in Bolivia with the industrial centers ofBrazil.

The author gained some acquaintance with the Pantanal throughparticipation in 1976 in a 2-week think-tank-type mission on the region inBrazil for the Organization of American States (OAS). An OAS report followedoutlining a series of surveys and studies to be carried out. Long isolated fromthe rest of much of Brazil, the Pantanal is in enormous cattle ranches, somecovering as much as 50,000 ha. The landholding pattern is markedlyskewed:

Landholding size


in ha

thous. ha


100 to 1,000



1,000 to 10,000



over 10,000



Flooding occurs annually for up to 6 months in many areas.Deep flooding of up to 5 m occurs about once in 7 years. There are 3 sizeablelakes with a total area of 75,000 ha.

The proliferation of wildlife, the mineral riches and thepossible use of much of the region for intensive agriculture, make the Pantanalof great long-range interest to Brazil, Paraguay and the world at large. Sincehowever its population is small and since its development to a significantextent cannot be expected in the short or even medium term, it appears doubtfulthat the Pantanal should have priority for the present.

Venezuela, The Orinoco River Delta

The Orinoco, one of South America's great rivers, has highpotential for hydroelectricity and, ultimately, for agriculture. But it issparsely populated and should not therefore have priority for the present. Onthe other hand, there is little doubt that studies leading to long-rangeproperly-phased sustainable development should continue to be pursued for whichadvice should be obtainable from various international agencies such as the UNDPand FAO.

The Caribbean

Areas and the affected populations are generally small. TheDominican Republic may be an exception. A sizeable irrigation project alreadyexists - the Yaque del Norte - and development is proposed as well for theeastern part of the republic - the Yuna River basin. The key to sustainable andeconomic development appears to be the marketing of high-value crops to PuertoRico and to the United States. Cuba has extensive irrigated zones and may be ofinterest once normal international relations are achieved.

Central America, The Caribbean Coast

This extensive zone has similarity to the Mexican Gulf Coastbut the population affected is relatively small.

Central America, Urban Regions

Areas adjacent to several of the larger cities could becandidates. In Nicaragua, a zone known as Tuma Viejo east of Managua and northof Lake Nicaragua was reconnoitered by the author in 1965 and appeared promisingfor intensive irrigated agriculture.

Holistic Approach to Planning

Planning of large water-resource development schemes, whethernew ones or modification of existing ones, is a complex process. Complexitiesare caused not only by increased population pressures and scarcity of resources.Cultural and environmental factors now weight heavily - much more than say 40 or50 years ago.

A holistic approach to planning is now needed (Kirpich1993) which considers all relevant factors. While time consuming, such anapproach is now essential. Of course, the judgement of the planner must beexercised to select the relevant factors, while giving less weight to the lessrelevant ones.


Bartone, C.W. 1990. Water quality and urbanization in LatinAmerica. Water International, vol. 15, No. 1.

Comision del Plan Nacional Hidraulico 1981. P. 19. PlanNacional Hidraulico 1981. Secretaria de Agricultura y Recursos Hidraulicos,Mexico City.

Comision del Plan Nacional Hidraulico 1985. El programa dedesarrollo rural integrado para el tropico humedo (PRODERITH); Primera etapa;Evaluacion 1978-84. Secretaria de Agricultura y Recursos Hidraulicos, MexicoCity.

Economist (The) 1993. Issue of April 3. P. 46.

Kirpich, P.Z. and Ospina, C.S. 1959. Flood Control Aspects ofCauca Valley Development. Journal of Hydraulics Division, September 1959.American Society of Civil Engineers, New York.

Kirpich, P.Z. 1993. Holistic Approach to Irrigation Managementin Developing Countries. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage engineering,March/April 1993. American Society of Civil Engineers, New York.

Ochs, W. and Wittenberg P. 1992. The Lower Guayas floodcontrol and drainage project. Pp. 275-289 in Proceedings of the Irrigation andDrainage sessions of Water Forum '92, American Society of Civil Engineers, NewYork.

Posada F., A.J. and Posada de, Jeanne. 1966. The CVC:Challenge to underdevelopment and traditionalism. Ediciones Tercer Mundo,Bogota, Colombia.

Ridgley, M.A. 1989. Water and Urban Land-Use Planning in Cali,Colombia. Journal of Water Resource Planning and Management, Nov. 1989. AmericanSociety of Civil Engineers, New York.


Regional Area (thousand hectares)

Regional Population
(approx., thousands)

Principal Cities

approx. population

Agencies concerned


Arable (a)




in thousands

Mexico: Gulf Coast






Vera Cruz


Secretaria de Agricultura y de Recursos



Hidraulicos (SARH), Mexico City



World Bank, Washington

Colombia: Upper Cauca Valley








Corporacion Autonoma Regional del Cauca, Cali



Instituto Combiano de la Reforma Agraria



(INCORA), Bogota



World Bank, Washington



Centro Internacional para la Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Buga

Inter-American Development Bank, Washington

World Health Organization (WHO), Washington

Ecuador: Lower Guayas Valley








Comision de Estudios para el Desarollo de la Cuenca de Guayas (CEDEGE), Guayaquil

Instituto Ecuatoriano de Recursos Hidraulicos (INEHRI), Quito

World Bank, Washington

Inter-American Development Bank, Washington

Peru: The Coast





World Bank, Washington

Inter-American Development Bank, Washington

Brazil: Northeast








Superintendencia de Desenvolvimento do Noreste



(SUDENE), Brasilia and Recife



Departamento Nacional de Obras de Saneamento

Sao Luis


(DNOS), Brasilia



Companhia de Desenvolvimento do Vale do Sao



Francisco (CODEVASF)

Joao Pessoa


Companhia Hidro Electrica do Sao Francisco (CHESF)

OAS, Washington

World Bank, Washington

Inter-American Development Bank, Washington

FAO, Rome

UNDP, New York

Chile: Santiago Region






World Bank, Washington

Viña del Mar


Inter-American Development Bank, Washington



WHO, Washington

Colombia: Lower Cauca/Magdalena Valleys



World Bank, Washington



Inter-American Development Bank




Santa Marta


(a) Land with medium to high agriculturalpotential obtainable primarily through water-control works (somecombination of works for flood control, drainage and irrigation) plusmanagement (of the water-control works, of agricultural support servicesand of institutional changes including land-ownership regulations).

(b) Highly tentative figure. The Sao Franciso River Valleyalone has over 800,000 ha (see text).

Hydrometeorological Networks and DataManagement for Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America

Medardo Molina, Eladio Zárate and NabilKawas1

1 World Meteorological Organization,Water Resources Regional Committee and National Meteorological Service(Honduras), respectively. Address: UNDP/Apartado Postal 4540, San José,Costa Rica.

This work deals with the Meteorological and HydrologicalNetworks of the Central American Isthmus and their ability to provideinformation for the management of Disasters Induced by AtmosphericPhenomena-(DIAP).

The Central American Isthmus, due to its geographicalsituation and topography, is highly vulnerable to the actions of hurricanes,cold fronts, tornadoes, tropical waves, and other atmospheric and hydrologicphenomena. The most visible and conspicuous manifestation of these phenomena arealmost always floods, which result from the combination of meteorological,watershed, and river conditions. Though man affects the latter conditions, thereis nothing he can do about the meteorological ones. However, he can quantifythem and study their probabilistic characteristics to understand them and toeventually prepare preventional measures that mitigate the negative effects ofDIAPs. Such a quantification is possible only if there exists a network withwell-located and well-designed stations.

This paper presents:

1. A probabilistic analysis of the occurrence ofhurricanes, tropical storms and floods, assuming a Poisson distribution for thequantitative estimate of the risks these events present for theIsthmus.

2. A description of the present ability of the network toobserve the atmospheric phenomena in Central America, including theirgeographical and temporal distribution.

3. Description of the present and future (satellite based)meteorological telecommunications systems, that link the Isthmus with the restof the world.

4. Discussion of the relationship between disaster preventionsystems and the availability of meteorological information to predict disasters,particularly related to the measures that should be taken before a disasterhits.

5. Description of the international cooperation and theregional integration mechanisms that exist and presently contribute to theprevention and mitigation of the DIAPs.

6. Conclusions and recommendations.


2.1. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in CentralAmerica

From 1887 to 1993, 33 hurricanes and 34 tropical storms havepassed over the Isthmus (Lizano, 1993; Belize, 1993). The damages caused bythese events are tremendous, the most recent example being Hurricane Joan(October, 1988), which practically demolished the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua,leaving in its path numerous deaths and millions of dollars in economiclosses.

To have a probabilistic idea of the occurrence of theseevents, assuming a Poisson distribution (Benjamin, 1970; Molina, 1986; Bedient,1992) the following table has been prepared:


# of events/year


Tropical Storms

Hurricanes or tropical storms
























We can see that, for example, the probability of having zerohurricanes or zero tropical storms in any year, is 72.8% and 73.5% respectively,the probability of haying one or more hurricanes, or one or more tropicalstorms, is 27.2% and 26.5% respectively. On the other hand, if we consider theoccurrence of either one of these events, the probability of zero events is48.7% and the probability of observing one or more events is 51.3% Because thedamages caused by either one of these storms are always disastrous, we can seethat the economic and social risks presented by these events are veryhigh.

2.2. Floods in Central America

The most conspicuous example of a DIAP is a flood. For thisreason, a partial compiling of the floods observed in Costa Rica, El Salvadorand Panama has been done to show the magnitude of this risk in the life of theCentral American countries.

The following table shows some figures of interest.


(Video) Plenary - Going with the Flow: Water Infrastructure and Sustainable Development


Costa Rica (Ref.6)

El Salvador (Ref.5)

Panama (Ref.14)




no data











no data






We see that Costa Rica has had 88 floods in 40 years, ElSalvador has had 37 floods in 30 years and Panama has had 25 floods in 30 years.As with storms, assuming a Poisson distribution, the following floodprobabilities can be estimated:


# of events/year

Costa Rica

El Salvador


































We can see that, for example, the probabilities of zero floodsin any year, is only 11 % in Costa Rica. On the contrary, the probabilities ofhaving one or more floods is 89%, 70.8% and 56.4% in Costa Rica, El Salvador andPanama, respectively. These figures show that the risk of floodings in thisregion is even higher than the risk of hurricanes or tropical storms. The floodsconsidered are the largest floods only, and which have generally produced lossof lives, huge material damages, and interruptions in the economic progress ofthe countries.

For example, the November 4, 1966 floods in Panama caused 60deaths, wiped out 36 towns and the losses were more than 1.5 million dollars.Similarly, the floods of June 7, 1973 in Rio Grande San Miguel, El Salvadorproduced at least three deaths and great damage to the infrastructure of thearea. In Costa Rica, because it is the most vulnerable, the number of deaths isalso larger. During the last two decades the floods of 1988, 1980, 1979, 1978,1972 produced a total of 14 Costa Rican deaths.


3.1. Geographical and Temporal Concept

The meteorological phenomena are born, develop and dissipatein different lengths of time. This characteristic is called the temporal scaleof the phenomena. The other characteristic is that each phenomenon has its owngeographic dimension, which is called the geographical scale.

If we apply these two characteristics, an isolated storm-cloudwould have a temporal scale of about two hours and a geographical scale of a fewsquare kilometers; but a hurricane's temporal scale includes several days, evenweeks, and its special geographical scale includes thousands of squarekilometers. A list of the phenomena affecting the Isthmus and relation to theirtemporal and geographical scale follows:




Drought in the whole Isthmus, caused by “ElNiño”

about 1.5 years

Tropical Pacific and other extra tropical areas

Hurricanes and tropical storms

days or weeks

thousands of square kilometers

Cold fronts

days or weeks

thousands of square kilometers



tens of square kilometers

Isolated electric thunder storm


tens of square kilometers

This table implies that the Isthmus hydrometeorologicalnetworks should respond to the international need to observe large phenomenasuch as El Niño, hurricanes, cold fronts and at the same time, detectpromptly, any smaller local phenomenon, such as an electrical thunder storm.Thus, the observing hydrometeorological networks must be structured from thesmallest to the largest phenomena, and the Isthmus should restructure itsnetworks to quantify the phenomena according the their scale.

The following actions are recommended:

1. Redesign present networks transferringinstrumentation from dense areas to lightly covered areas.

2. Introduce modern observing technologies, to allow quickavailability of information for timely decisions.

3. Locate new stations, using the temporal and geographicalconcept of the phenomena to be observed.

4. Link the hydrometeorological network to the data bank, toallow for easy and quick storage of, and access to, the data.

5. Educate governments and society that hydrometeorologicalobservations are a continuous, unlimited process.

3.2. The Observation Networks

They allow for the timely detection of the atmosphericphenomena and their effects as time passes. These networks are composed ofsatellite image reception stations, radar, radio sound stations (upper air) andconventional and automatic surface stations. Each of these networks has adifferent function.

For example, high resolution satellite images can alert theIsthmus when a hurricane enters the Caribbean Sea. Coastal radars define indetail the hurricane's characteristics when it is still three hundred kilometersfrom the coast, while, at the same time, will show the detail behavior of therain fall, streamflow, and wind along the hurricane's path.

Historically, the installation of networks in the Isthmus,from the beginning of the last century, has not been scientifically done. Theplacement of instruments was based on logistic reasons or on special interestneeds, which is why the first networks were installed along railroads, mainhighways and areas of hydroelectric or agriculture development (bananas). Thisresulted is, small areas being covered by dense networks while large, importantareas remained uncovered. A brief description of each network follows.

A. Network of Meteorological Satellite Image ReceptionStations

A meteorological satellite image reception station technologyallows the largest geographical view. The image of the entire Isthmus and itssurroundings can be obtained in a few minutes, and a vision of the earth'satmosphere takes about one hour. This network is the pillar of the weather watchof the Isthmus, because it allows the timely detection of atmospheric phenomenawhich could produce DIAPs. As of this date, only Panama has such a station. Therest of the countries receive photos by facsimile from the World MeteorologicalCenter in Washington, D.C. These pictures have a poor resolution. FINNIDAProject (Finnida, 1993) is financing the installation in 1994, of two of thesehigh resolution stations: one for Guatemala and the other for Costa Rica. Thecost of this type of station is approximately $120,000.

B. Radar Network

Meteorological radar is an instrument to observe theatmosphere and is able to give detailed information up to a radius of 500kilometers if there are no mountains in the way. This information is moreaccurate than that provided by satellite images. For example, radar provides agood approximation of the areas of heavy rainfall, thunder storms, winds, andother phenomena. Except for the radar installed in Belize, the rest of theIsthmus is unprotected in this way. The minimum ideal network in the Isthmus totrack hurricanes, tropical storms in both oceans and cold fronts from the north,would be stations located in Panama, Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, Pacific Coastof Guatemala and Honduras. A radar station costs approximately $1,000,000.

C. Network of Upper Air Radio Sound Stations

The measurement of wind, atmospheric pressure, moisture, andother variables from ground level up to 30 kilometers are very important forforecasting and tracking of severe atmospheric conditions. In the case ofCentral America, these measures are valid around a radius of 300 kilometers.There are four of these stations in the Isthmus, located in Balboa, Panama, SanJose, Costa Rica, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Guatemala City. FINNIDA Projectprovided new equipment for Costa Rica and will install a similar one in PuertoCabezas, Nicaragua. However, the old stations of Panama, Honduras y Guatemalaand the new ones required for Panama and Belize, have no financing. The cost ofa equipment is approximately $300,000.

D. Conventional and Intelligent Surface HydrometeorologicalNetwork

These are the networks of the densest concentration in thearea. They are on the ground, measuring atmospheric variables highly affected byphysiography, and they depict conditions for about ten squarekilometers.

However, with the regard to DIAPs, they are very important,because they provide information that allows us to know the behavior of theatmospheric phenomena we see in the satellite and radar images. Thanks to theelectronic and modern communication technologies, these stations can nowfunction unmanned in remote areas. That's why they are labeled“intelligent” stations.

Honduras y Panama seven years ago, were the first ones toutilize this technology. FINNIDA Project is upgrading these stations andinstalling three new ones: two in Belize and one on Coco Island, in Costa Rica'sPacific side. The project has assigned a considerable amount of money to expandand improve these conventional networks.

E. Real Time Telemetric Networks

“Real Time” means immediate access, in thedecision-making center, to measurements being reported from the field.Hydrometeorological telemetry is used for the forecasting of heavy rains,floods, risky lake levels, and draught trends. In our region, only Panama andCosta Rica have installed telemetric networks in watersheds that producehydroelectrical power. The rest of the Isthmus is unprotected for lack of thesestations.

F. Oceanic Data Network

With few exceptions, the Isthmus doesn't do oceanic parametricobservations. This is a serious problem, because the influence of the oceans inthe atmospheric process is known to be crucial, especially in the case of asmall stretch of land lying between two oceans, as is the Isthmus.


4.1. CEMET

This telecommunication network allows for meteorologicalinformation exchange among the countries of the region and is part of the GlobalTelecommunication System of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO, 1988).This system presents many problems, because it is based on microwaves and it isa one-way system where the failure of one point interrupts the wholesystem.

4.2. Satellite-based TelecommunicationsSystem

This system uses a satellite to transmit and receivemeteorological information according to W.M.O. standards. It is a two-waymulti-point system and will allow exchange of information between the countries.(WMO, 1992) This system will replace CEMET and will become operationalapproximately in April, 1994.


5.1. Disaster Prevention

This implies a set of measures that will avoid the negativeeffects of the atmospheric phenomena on the ground and prevent them frombecoming disasters (CNE, 1992). Effective prevention includes:

· Resources
· Communications
· Strategies forAction.
The emergency preparedness agencies of each country are incharge of implementing these activities. The role of the meteorological servicesis to provide information that enables the disaster preparedness crew to designtheir strategies before the emergency arises. This is done through forecastings.Actions before the emergencies include: 1) alerting the population of the comingdisaster and 2) explanations of how to protect their lives and property. Theaccuracy of the forecasting depends on the accuracy of the information, whichrelies on the density of the networks observing the meteorological andhydrological phenomena.

A. Disaster Prevention in case of Tropical Storms, Hurricanes,or Typhoons

The information provided by the following systems isimportant:

· Images ofMeteorological Satellites
· Radar
· Conventional GroundStations
· Upper Air RadioSounds
· Ships andAirplanes
The information provided by all these sources, for example,allowed Jamaica, during Hurricane Gilbert (Sept. 12, 1988), to have a relativelylow death toll only 45 compared with 152 produced by Hurricane Charlie in 1951,(ODP, 1988; Smith, 1989).

B. Flood Disaster Prevention

This implies (Smith, 1989), measures such as Flood Plainmapping, stream flow analysis, and accurate knowledge of watershed and rainfallcharacteristics. The Isthmus doesn't have a complete flood prevention system,but DANIDA (Danida, 1993), is providing a flood-forecasting computer softwareand hardware package that would allow for flood predictions. This project must,however, be complemented with the installation of telemetric systems, which,then, would be an excellent means of reducing damages caused by floods. Panama,El Salvador, Honduras y Costa Rica already plan to install telemetric systems intheir flood-prone areas. FINNIDA Project, in this respect, has limited itsactions to installing and training in the hydrograph simulation model known asHEC1 and the water surface profiles model known as HEC2.

5.2. International Cooperation

Because a disaster has no boundaries and can cover very largeregions as in the case of a hurricane, international cooperation in disasterprevention is essential. Fortunately, the Central American region belongs to aworldwide meteorological networks known as World Weather Watch and the GlobalTelecommunication System (GTS), which provide instantaneous and systematicexchange of meteorological information.

Concerning floods, expectations are centered on DANIDAProject, this will hopefully, be complemented with a telemetric system thatpermits monitoring of flood events.

On the other hand, the United Nations International Decade forNatural Disaster Reduction is committed to coordinating the efforts of EmergencyManagement Agencies.

Also, CEPREDENAC, Center for the Prevention of NaturalDisasters in Central America, is coordinating emergency activities and is basedin Guatemala City. On the other hand, the Comité Regional de RecursosHidraulicos (CRRH) based in Costa Rica, groups all the countries of the Isthmusand coordinates the actions of their water resources management andmeteorological service agencies in data management, training, andresearch.

To conclude, we mention that the U.S. Weather Service, (Smith,1989), has shown how loss of human lives due to hurricanes has been dramaticallyreduced (8,100 in 1900-1910, to 160 in 1980-1987) in spite of the increase ofcoastal populations (Florida: from less than one million to nine million duringthe same time span) by the development of storm tracking technologies,telecommunications, public education and alert systems.

5.3. Data Control and Prevention of DIAPs

Good data management means efficient utilization of humanresources, data-processing, information systems, computer technology, andinternational cooperation. We are indebted to W.M.O. for introducing thisapproach 30 years ago, which when properly applied is a means of disasterprevention. It allows for timely collection of pertinent information obtainedfrom the right source. It also implies timely dissemination of processedinformation and that is what prevention is all about.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the management andprocessing of atmospheric data in Central America, is becoming more efficientthanks to the FINNIDA Project, which positively affect the regional disasterprevention measures.


1. The Central American Isthmus is a high risk zone fordisasters induced by atmospheric phenomena. Loss of life and property is ayearly occurrence in the area.

2. The network of stations to observe the atmosphericphenomena, such as radar, radio sound, automatic stations, are crucial foraccurate forecasting and reducing the negative effects of DIAPs.

3. Numerous International Development Agencies are engaged inprojects to produce and disseminate meteorological information that will helpreduce the frequency of the DIAPs.

4. On the other hand, agencies and international cooperationinstitutions are working to promote regional integration and cooperation todevelop a technology that mitigates damages caused by DIAPs.

5. However, because of the complexity of the geographicalenvironment, the poor economic development, and the political and socialproblems that affect the region, there still are many tasks to be undertaken,many problems to be solved, many obstacles to be overcome.

6. It is therefore recommended that the internationalcommunity continue its support and assistance to the CA countries in theireffort to produce reliable meteorological and hydrological information that willallow them more efficiently manage their DIAPs.


1. Bedient, P.B., W. Huber. Hydrology and Flood PlainAnalysis. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. New York, 1992.

2. Belize National Meteorological Service Data Base. TropicalCyclones Passing within 100 N MI of the Belize International Airport Station.17.5 N, 88. 3 W. June.

3. Belize National Meteorological Service. Monthly WeatherBulletin. Vol. 1, #5, September, 1993.

4. Benjamin, J., C.A. Cornell. Probability, Statistics andDecisions for Civil Engineers. McGraw-Hill Book Co. New York, 1970.

5. Centro de Meteorología e Hidrología de ElSalvador. Información sobre Inundaciones en El Salvador(comunicación personal). Setiembre 1993.

6. Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, Compendio Generalsobre Desastres. San José, 1992.

7. Danish Hydraulic Institute. Mathematical Modeling for RealTime Flood Forecasting and Flood Control in Central America, PreliminaryInception Report. Copenhagen, March, 1993.

8. FINNIDA, Project for the Improvement and Rehabilitation ofMeteorological and Hydrological Services of the CA Isthmus, Project Work Plan,July 1993-June 1994. San José, July 1993.

9. Lizano, O.G. Trayectorias de huracanes y TormentasTropicales en el Istmo Centroamericano. Universidad de Costa Rica(comunicación personal). 1993.

10. Molina, M., C. Gray. Probability Distribution ofHurricanes Affecting Jamaica. Kingston, 1986.

11. Office of Disaster Preparedness. Hurrican Gilbert.Kingston, Jamaica, Dec. 1988.

12. OMM. Protección de la Atmósfera, losOcéanos y los Recursos Hídricos. Ginebra 1992.

13. OMM. La Vigilancia Meteorológica Mundial. Ginebra,1988.

14. Rodríguez, Salvador. Inundaciones másImportantes en la República de Panamá. UniversidadTecnológica de Panamá, (comunicación personal),Panamá, Setiembre, 1993.

15. Smith, D.K. Prevención de Desastres Naturales y elAporte de los Servicios Meteorológicos e Hidrológicos.Organización Meteorológica Mundial, Ginebra, 1989.

16. World Meteorological Organization. GTS-DM. Expert Meetingon the Implementation and Operation of Satellite Based TelecommunicationSystems. Final Report. Miami, Florida. October, 1992.

Water Management for the 21stCentury

Albert Muñiz, P.E., J.I. García-Bengochea, Ph.D,P.E., William B. Ziegler, P.E., R. David Pyne, P.E.1

1 CH2M Hill, 800 Fairway Drive, Suite350, Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441, USA

Water is probably the most essential of our natural resources,for without it we cannot live. Continued increases in demand on water resourcescan be anticipated as the world population expands. Competing and conflictingdemands on water supply have raised serious concerns about the long-termreliability of our water resources. Traditional water systems are being stressedby increased demand from domestic, industrial, agricultural, and environmentalusers. In addition, physical, regulatory, and financial constraints furthercomplicate our ability to meet future demands. Three components that will berequired to adequately meet tomorrow's water demands include:

· Prudent WaterManagement
· Protection of Resourcesthrough Regulations
· Implementation of InnovativeNew Technologies.
Water Management

Due to the continued growth in demand upon our water resourcesthroughout Florida, prudent water management practices have become, and willcontinue to be essential in maintaining these resources for domestic,industrial, agricultural and environmental needs. In most instances, the realissue is not lack of water, but rather conflicting and competing demands uponwater management policies, infrastructure and agencies. Resolution of thesedemands is politically complex and sometimes conveys the impression that watermanagement is inadequate or that inadequate water is available. Once thisoccurs, an urgent need often arises to identify new resources. This situationcan be eliminated or deferred if existing resources are managedefficiently.

Prudent water management practices involve conserving existingresources (groundwater and surface water) and balancing them with sometimesoverlooked resources such as seasonal floods or reclaimed water, regulating theuse of resources, and implementation of innovative new technologies.

South Florida's topography is characterized by low elevations,flat terrain and widespread occurrence of wetlands. Water management hashistorically focused on flood control until recent years when a severe droughtthreatened water supplies and the quality of surface waters deteriorated to thepoint that wastewater treatment and effluent disposal practices had to bechanged. Water levels in South Florida have been maintained with controlstructures throughout the drainage canal system. These canals recharge thesurficial aquifer and eventually discharge to the Atlantic Ocean or Florida Bay.The Kissimmee River feeds Lake Okeechobee which, in turn, supplies water to thecanal system and also to the Everglades National Park. Water levels in thecanals are maintained by water released from Lake Okeechobee during dry months,combined with normal local rainfall which recharges the canals through surfacerun-off. Most of the available resource is lost to evaporation, seepage andocean outfalls. Most of the wastewater effluent that was removed from surfacewaters is now discharged to deep injection wells at depths typically around 900m. Because the surficial aquifer system cannot accommodate waters that fill thecanal system during heavy Florida storm events, Water Management Districtsprevent flooding by operating the canal system in a manner that allows thisfresh water to pass to the ocean. This results in the loss of a valuable freshwater resource, at least a portion of which could possibly be put to better useif adequate storage could be made available at reasonable cost.

Water availability becomes a serious problem during periods ofdrought because of the stresses placed on the surficial aquifer in coastalareas. These withdrawals are often greater than the safe yield of the aquifer.Prolonged operation of systems in this manner creates saltwater intrusion whichmay require shut down of wellfields or substantial reduction in withdrawal.Reduced water availability may also impact environmentally sensitive wetlands.This is of major concern in South Florida during the months of November throughApril or May when there is less recharge and water demands are high because ofthe tourist season.

Water managers have learned from this experience and have nowshifted their efforts to ensure that a reliable supply exists for all usersthroughout the year. One of their biggest concerns is that of convening theinfrastructure that was constructed for flood control purposes into one thatmeets more challenging water demands of tomorrow. New management practices willrequire balancing production and management of ground and surface waterresources when available. This will involve protection of the resources throughregulation, possible construction of new surface reservoirs, and implementationof new technologies such as Aquifer Storage and Recovery.

Protection of Resources Through Regulation

Part of the Florida approach to meeting water needs hasincluded formation of five regional Water Management Districts, funded primarilyby property taxes and governed by individuals appointed by the Governor ofFlorida to represent a balance of differing water interests. These districts areprimarily responsible for management of water quantity issues, while the FloridaDepartment of Environmental Protection is responsible for water quality issues.Activities of the Water Management Districts have included development of watersupply policies, plans and regulations to protect conserve and develop fresh andbrackish water resources. Activities also include wellhead protection to protectwater quality, allocation of quantities that do not degrade the resource,through issuance of permits; and enforcement of regulations.

Wellhead protection involves the designation andclassification of areas around a well or wellfield which limit activities thatcould potentially contaminate or threaten the resource. This policy has been ineffect in South Florida since the mid-1980s and has been very successful inprotecting wellfield areas. Gross contamination resulting in the loss of aportion of a wellfield, or a complete wellfield, has been greatly reduced as aresult of wellhead protection practices.

Safe yield limits for wellfields are established and enforcedby the water management districts. Safe yield is generally defined as the volumeof water that a wellfield or aquifer can produce that will not result inunacceptable adverse effects or degradation of the supply. Degradation mayinclude saltwater intrusion or contamination by surficial sources such aspetroleum products.

One of the most significant regulatory impacts for waterresource management is consistent and equitable enforcement of currentregulations to implement water management policy. This involves frequentworkshops between the different regulators (internal or external) to assure thatpolicy enforcement is being applied consistently among all users.

Florida has complex water management challenges, andconflicting, competing demands for available water supplies. A system of watermanagement has been developed to address these challenges. This system is widelyregarded as being one of the best such systems in the United States, including alegal framework, governmental organization, policies, plans and practices thatwork together to address water supply and water quality challenges.

Implementation of Innovative Technologies

Development of innovative technologies can facilitateimprovements in water management and thereby ease political and economicstresses commonly associated with complex water supply issues. New ways ofoperating old systems must be considered to more efficiently utilize our naturalresources. Some of these new technologies include effluent treatment by flowthrough wetlands, effluent reuse, stormwater retention and treatment in ponds ateach new development site, membrane treatment of brackish water; saltwaterintrusion barriers with reclaimed water; aquifer recharge, and Aquifer Storageand Recovery (ASR). Each of these technologies should be considered for theircost effectiveness and environmental benefits.

One of the most successful water management technologies inFlorida, the United States, and several other countries is ASR. This technologyhas been proven feasible in many different hydrogeologic settings as a costeffective means for increasing water supply, and is now being introduced toother countries with water needs. ASR is the underground storage of waterthrough wells in a suitable aquifer when excess supplies are available, andrecovery from the same wells when needed to meet seasonal peak, long-term, oremergency demands. Storage zones include fresh, brackish and seawater aquifers.The waters recovered usually do not require retreatment other than disinfectionfor potable uses. The rapid implementation of ASR reflects its success as awater management tool and also its cost-effectiveness, since water systemexpansion with ASR typically reduces capital costs by at least 50percent.

Originally, ASR systems were designed to store potable waterbut the concept has since been expanded in scope to incorporate storage ofuntreated ground water, surface water, and reclaimed water. Typical ASR wellsmay store in excess of 1 million cubic meters (264 million US gallons). However,the storage potential depends on the availability of water for storage and thehydraulic characteristics of the receiving zones, which may be effectivelyunlimited. These systems have many benefits over conventional storagetechniques, however, the greatest benefits are the ability to provide long termstorage at a much lower cost with greater flexibility. In Florida, storage isprovided in brackish, limestone portions of the upper Floridan Aquifer System.Some of the other benefits are listed below:

· Seasonalstorage
· Emergency storage
· Prevention of saltwaterintrusion
· Nutrient reduction inagricultural runoff
· Reduction in concentration ofdisinfection byproducts
· Deferred expansion of watersupply/treatment facilities
· Reclaimed water storage forreuse
· Reduction ofevapotranspiration and seepage losses
· Minimal above ground landrequirements for storage
· Improved reliability andflexibility of water supply system
· Enhanced water managementefficiency
· Reduced environmentalimpacts
· Maintain distribution systemflows and pressures
ASR has been combined with existing water treatment facilitiesin Florida to better manage the resource and is now being considered by theSouth Florida Water Management District for use with surface water reservoirs asan improved means for managing storm water run-off.

Three principle criteria govern the site specific feasibilityof ASR. These criteria are:

· Is there aseasonal variation in water supply/availability, water demand, or both?Typically, when the ratio of maximum day demand to average day demand is equalto or greater than 1.3 for potable ASR systems, this criterion is met.

· Is there a reasonable scale ofwater facilities capacity? Balancing economies of scale against the initial costof developing ASR wells, ASR is usually an appropriate technology if usefulrecovery capacity is above 4000 CMD (1 million gallons per day). This criterionapplies mostly to ASR applications for water utility systems, however economiesof scale apply to all ASR water sources.

· Is there a suitable storagezone? Site specific evaluation and testing is required to confirm ASRfeasibility.

Of the 18 ASR systems storing drinking water currentlyoperational in the United States, five are in Florida. One of the most recentsuccessful ASR projects in South Florida has been completed for the City ofBoynton Beach. The ASR well was completed into a brackish, confined limestoneaquifer approximately 800 to 900 feet below land surface. The well currently isstoring approximately 230,000 CM (60 million gallons) of drinking water with arecharge/recovery rate of approximately 5.7 Ml/d (1.5 million gallons per day).Greater operational volumes are anticipated. Recovery efficiencies weredemonstrated in excess of 90 percent during a recent low rainfall period.Utilizing the well during this period allowed the City to decrease withdrawalrates from its east wellfield where saltwater intrusion is a concern. Saltwaterintrusion occurs in the east wellfield during periods of high pumping and lowrecharge. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate how an ASR system is incorporated with atypical water treatment system in both the wet season storage mode and dryseason recovery mode, respectively.


Within the United States, Florida and California are oftenperceived as leading the development and implementation of new technologies andregulatory practices in water management as well as other areas. Many recognizeFlorida's Water Management District system, and the water laws and regulationscomprising the backbone of this system, as unequaled in the United States. Rapidgrowth and associated increasing water demands have placed considerable stressupon valued natural systems, the protection of which will require enlightenedwater management by urban, agricultural and industrial interests. Prudent watermanagement practices, combined with appropriate regulations and theirenforcement, can help to achieve broad water management objectives. Howeverinnovative technologies such as Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) offer a greatopportunity to make more efficient use of available water resources to meetfuture needs, while also protecting the environment and substantially reducingcosts.

Many of the water management practices and technologies thathave been developed and applied in Florida may also be useful for considerationto address water management needs in Central and South America. In particular,population growth and increasing demands for water, combined with seasonalvariability in supply and demand, may provide an excellent opportunity for ASRapplication to meet future needs while reducing costs and protecting valuednatural ecosystems.

Planning - A Must in the Conservationof Natural Resources: The Puerto Rico Experience

Haraldo Otero-Torres and María Flores deOtero1

1 Consulting Engineers, Versalles A5-1Park Gardens, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00926.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication of theseproceedings, the english version of the presentation was not available. TheSpanish version of this paper titled “Planificación - Una NecesidadPerentoria en la Conservación de los Recursos Naturales - La Experienciade Puerto Rico” is available upon request by writing to the authors or fromthe editor.


This paper is an unofficial essay of the situation Puerto Ricois undergoing in the fields of water supply and quality control of waterresources from the perspective of two consultants in civil and sanitaryengineering. Because of its special relationship with the United States of NorthAmerica, Puerto Rico is bound to comply with federal regulation in all thefields of control of contamination.

Particular geographic characteristics, high populationdensity, limited natural resources, dependent economy and the fact that it is adeveloping country (advanced if you will), makes it necessary for Puerto Rico touse the approach of a highly developed country in dealing with the solution ofthe inherent problems of the management of its natural resources.

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), is theagency in charge of the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of thewater supply and wastewater collection and treatment systems. PRASA's operationare subject to obtaining a water use permit (in volume) from the Department ofNatural Resources and a construction permit from the Environmental QualityBoard. It also meets the standards of the Department of Health (which overseesthe quality of the water being distributed), and has to comply with the MasterPlan of the Planning Board. A NPDES permit from EPA Region II, is necessary aswell.

To comply with the U.S. Clean Water Act, PRASA prepared aComprehensive Water Quality Management Plan for Puerto Rico that proposed theregionalization of the sewerage systems committing in this objective all itseconomical and human resources, disregarding at the same time the planning,operation, and maintenance of the water supply. On the other hand, the frequentviolations of sewerage treatment plants (in many cases overloaded thehydrologically and organically parameter limits, set already by the NPDESdischarge permits) led to fines and the ultimate “imprisonment” of ahigh percentage of them.

This situation hindered the development of the constructionindustry because the court order did not permit new connection to existingsystems. At the same time the suspension of the actualization of the planningfor the development of new sources for the potabilization of water and thedisregard for proper operation and maintenance of the existing systems led to awater deficit that also did not allow for new connections to the system. This“catch 22” situation led to a drastic emergency action taken by theGovernor of Puerto Rico who signed an Executive Order for using the necessaryfunds in the construction of permanent civil works and also reinstalling theplanning role of the agency.

The Puerto Rico case is an example of how not to react to thedemands of compliance with water quality standards (more restrictive every day,either for water intake and its potabilization process as for discharges oftreated wastewaters to the receiving bodies of water) if the action is notaccompanied by comprehensive water quality planning and/or by the updating ofthe existing one. The lack of planning in this field could create chaoticconditions which may negatively affect the economic and social development of acountry.

Appropriate Technologies of WastewaterTreatment for Sustainable Development

Ernesto Pérez, P.E.1

1 Technology Transfer Chief, WaterManagement Division, US Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV, 345Courtland St. N.E., Atlanta GA 30365, USA. Telephone:404-347-3633
Note from the author: This paper is available in Spanish bywriting directly to the author at the address shown below.


Sustainable development has been defined by the WorldCommission on Environment and Development as that development that meets theneeds of the present without compromising the ability of future generations tomeet their own needs. In “Our Own Agenda” the Latin American CaribbeanCommission on Development and Environment challenges present generations todesign a strategy of development in harmony with nature that meets the needs ofpresent and future generations. In other words, Sustainable development requiresthe adoption of a technology that also meets the basic needs of the populationin the areas of health, food and shelter.

Wastewater treatment technologies can be designed “inharmony” within this Sustainable development concept. They can provide lowcost sanitation and environmental protection while providing beneficial uses forwater reuse. These technologies are mainly natural systems: aquatic andterrestrial. These technologies are in existence in United States ofAmerica, primarily in small towns or where water reuse is a priority. Theseappropriate technologies can be suitable for many developing countries and forsimilar several reasons:

1. Forestation, agriculture, livestock andgroundwater recharge are the principal environmental problems associatedwith the land in Latin America and other developing countries. According to“Our Own Agenda” Report: In South America forty-seven percent of thepasture soil are loosing their fertility. Deforestation reached 0.61 per centannually for Latin America and the Caribbean and 1.6 percent annually forCentral America. The potential for irrigation is 20 million hectares while thereare six million hectares under irrigation. Thirty percent of the irrigated landcannot be used because of salinity.

Wastewater treatment technologies such as terrestrial systems(slow rate, overland flow rapid infiltration) provide beneficial uses toforests, some types of agriculture, pasture for livestock and groundwaterrecharge.

2. Low capital costs of wastewater treatment plants.According to “Our Own Agenda” report, eighty percent of the illnessesin Latin America are due to deficiencies in wastewater infrastructure whileforty percent of the urban population do not have sewer systems. In areas whereland values are not at a premium wastewater treatment technologies such asaquatic systems (lagoons and constructed wetlands) can be very attractive whileachieving similar protection to the environment and sanitation.

3. Low manpower requirements and low operation andmaintenance costs. Some of the socio-economic strategies for theimplementation of Sustainable development include the general reduction of costsof production and special attention to technologies that save energy. Naturalwastewater treatment systems that include lagoons require half of the manpowerof that of a conventional system. In addition, the decrease in the requirementsof pumps and other electrical devices reduce the need for energyconsumption.

This presentation focuses on appropriate wastewater treatmenttechnologies based on the principle of Sustainable development for Latin Americaand other developing countries and the recommendation of “Our OwnAgenda” of restructuring public expenditures to give priority to theservices of low cost and high multiplying effect.


Natural systems (aquatic and terrestrial) have been in use fora number of years in United States of America. They are of two of the three maincategories of wastewater treatment systems available to treat domestic waste. Inaddition to natural systems, mechanical systems do have their use whereprimarily land suitability and quantity is restricted. Figure 1 presents asummary of these systems.

Aquatic Systems are represented by lagoons:facultative, aerated, and Hydrograph Controlled Release (HCR). These lagoonscan be further supplemented in treatment with constructed wetlands,aquaculture, and sand filters. Their main contributions to the sustainabledevelopment are their low capital cost and low operational/technicalrequirements which have an indirect impact to public funds. Lagoons are one ofthe oldest methods of wastewater treatment and are commonly in use in USA. Manyof these lagoons are serving small communities in USA and are accompanied byadditional treatment provided by constructed wetlands, sand filters andaquaculture systems. They are used to treat a wide variety of wastewaters, andfunction under a wide range of weather conditions. Their main advantages, as itwill be shown later, are its low cost, low operation and maintenance and lowtechnical manpower requirement.

Facultative lagoons are the most common form of lagoonscurrently in use. The water layer near the surface is aerobic while the bottomlayer which includes sludge deposits is anaerobic. The intermediate layer isaerobic near the top, and anaerobic near the bottom, and termed the facultativezone. The main advantage of the facultative lagoon is its low cost of operationand maintenance as well as the low technical operational requirements.Aerated Lagoons are smaller and deeper than facultative lagoons. Thesesystems evolved from stabilization ponds when aeration devices were added tocounteract odors arising from septic conditions. The aeration devices can bemechanical or diffused air systems. The advantage of the aerated lagoon is lessland requirement; however, it introduces mechanical devices which will requirehigher technical manpower requirement. The chief disadvantage of lagoons is higheffluent solids which can exceed 100 mg/l. Hydrograph Controlled Release(HCR) lagoons are a recent innovative process. In this system, wastewater isdischarged only during periods when the stream flow is adequate to prevent waterquality degradation. When stream conditions prohibit discharge, wastewater isaccumulated in a storage lagoon.

Constructed wetlands, aquacultures, and sand filtershave been the most successful methods of polishing wastewater from lagoons;These systems have also been used with other primary devices other than lagoons,such as Imhoff tanks, septic tanks, and primary clarifiers. Their main advantageis to provide a treatment beyond secondary where required.

Constructed Wetlands have been utilized during the pastfew years in two designs, free-water surface (FWS), and subsurfaceflow (SF). Both systems utilize plants' roots to provide for attachedbacteria growth and oxygen transfer. Bacteria do the bulk of the work in thesesystems although there is some nitrogen uptake by the plants. The FWSsystem more closely approximates a natural wetland. Typically, these systemsare long, narrow basins with depths less than 2 feet, planted with typicalvegetation such as bulrush or cattails. SF systems use a gravel or sandmedium approximately eighteen inches deep through which the wastewaterflows.

Aquaculture systems are distinguished by the type ofplant grown, they are primarily water hyacinths, or duckweed. These systems arebasically shallow ponds covered with floating plants with detention times ofseveral days. The plants main purpose is to provide a suitable environment forbacteria which remove the vast majority of dissolved nutrients.

Sand Filters have been used for wastewater treatmentfor at least a hundred years in USA. The two types commonly used, intermittentand recirculating, differ mainly in the method of application of the wastewater.Intermittent filters are dosed by flooding and allowed to completely drainbefore the next application. Recirculating filters utilize a pump to recirculatethe filter effluent at a ratio of from 3 to 5 to 1. Both types of filters use asand media with a depth of from 2 to 3 feet underlaid by a collection systemconsisting of perforated or open join pipes enclosed within a graded gravelmedium. These are primarily biological processes though straining andsedimentation of suspended solids between sand grains and chemical sorption onthe grain surfaces plays a role in the process efficiency.

Terrestrial systems are represented by slow-rate,overland flow, and rapid infiltration. Their individual contribution tosustainable development, in addition to wastewater treatment and low maintenancecost consist of: groundwater recharge (water conservation), reforestation,agriculture, and livestock feed. These systems depend upon physical,chemical, and biological reactions on and within the soil. Slow rate andoverland flow require vegetation. Slow-rate, subsurface infiltration, andusually rapid infiltration are zero discharge systems. Each system has differentconstraints regarding soil permeability.

Although slow rate systems are the most costly systemsof the natural systems their advantage is the positive impact on sustainabledevelopment. In addition of treating wastewater they provide an economic returnfrom the reuse of water and nutrients to produce marketable crops for someagriculture products and livestock, and reforestation. In slow-rate systems,either primary or secondary wastewater is applied at a controlled rate to avegetated land surface of moderate to slow permeability. Application is by meansof either sprinklers or flooding of furrows. Wastewater is treated as it passesthrough the soil by filtration, adsorption, ion exchange, precipitation,microbial action, and plant uptake. Vegetation is a critical component of theprocess and serves to extract nutrients, reduce erosion, and maintain soilpermeability.

Overland Flow systems is a land application method ofwastewater treatment with point discharge to a surface water. Its maincontribution toward sustainable development would be its low maintenance and lowtechnical manpower requirements when nitrogen removal is required in very lowpermeable soils. Wastewater is applied intermittently across the top of terracesand allowed to sheet flow over the vegetated surface to the runoff collectionchannel. Treatment is achieved primarily through sedimentation, filtration, andbiochemical activity as the wastewater flows through the vegetation on theterraced slope. Loading rates and cycles are designed to maintain activemicroorganism growth on the soil. The rate and length of application iscontrolled to minimize severe anaerobic conditions and the resting period shouldbe long enough to prevent surface ponding, yet short enough to keep themicroorganisms in an active state.

In rapid infiltration systems most of the appliedwastewater percolates through the soil, and the treated effluent drainsnaturally to surface waters or joins the ground water. Rapid infiltrationcontributes to sustainable development by providing groundwater recharge as wellas low cost and low manpower technical required maintenance wastewatertreatment. The applied soils are moderately and highly permeable. The wastewateris applied by spreading in basins or by sprinkling as is treated as it travelsthrough the soil. Vegetation is not necessary but does not cause a problemeither. The major treatment goal is conversion of ammonia nitrogen to nitratenitrogen prior to discharge to receiving water.

Subsurface infiltration systems are designed formunicipalities of less than 2,500 people. They are usually designed forindividual homes (septic tanks) but they can be designed for clusters of homes.Although they do require specific site conditions, they can be low cost methodsof disposal.

Mechanical systems utilize a combination of physical,biological and chemical processes. In order to achieve treatment objectives, aseries of tanks along with pumps, blowers, screens, grinders, and othermechanical components in conjunction with various types of instrumentation areutilized. Sequencing Batch Reactors (SBR), Oxidation Ditches, and ExtendedAeration systems are all variations of the Activated Sludge process, a suspendedgrowth system. The Trickling Filter Solids Contact Process (TFSCP) in Figure 1is a modification to the conventional standard rate process, an attached-growthsystem. These mechanical systems are effective where land is at apremium.


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Natural systems are capable of producing an effluent equal tomechanical systems. Figure 2 is a depiction of the treatment performance of eachof the systems. All of the systems can meet secondary limits defined asBiological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) less than 30mg/l. All systems except for lagoons are viable under the category of advancedtreatment which is defined as BOD and Total Solids less than 20 mg/l.


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The last three columns, NH3 (ammonia conversion), TP (totalphosphorus), and TN (total nitrogen), show the efficiency of some of the systemsto produce advanced waste treatment. An ammonia limit of 2 or less isconsistently achievable by six of the systems; mechanical, sand filters, and theland application systems. Constructed wetland and aquaculture systems have shownpromise in providing low ammonia effluents, but currently lack a concrete designwhich can deliver consistent results.

A low phosphorus limit will exclude all but three systems;mechanical, slow rate, and subsurface infiltration. If the soil is favorable,rapid infiltration can achieve significant phosphorus removals. A low totalnitrogen limit eliminates all but two options; mechanical or slow rate. Ifgroundwater contamination is not a risk, rapid infiltration will also be anavailable.

Treatment performance is the critical factor in determiningprocess viability. Though mechanical systems are shown as capable of meeting alltreatment performance criteria depicted, this performance will requireadditional expenditures of initial capital cost and operation and maintenance;primarily of chemicals and tanks. The costs for these additions are not includedin the cost data presented below.


Figure 3 compares manpower requirements for mechanical andlagoon systems of 1 mgd capacity. These figures were derived from tables in theEPA publication Estimating Staffing for Municipal Wastewater TreatmentFacilities. The simplicity of operations for lagoon systems is reflected inmanpower needs of approximately half that needed in a mechanicalsystem.


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A survey of treatment plant and operator classifications wasconducted by USEPA Region IV of the southeastern states in USA for purposes ofcomparison.

A consensus of education, experience, and salary levels fornatural versus mechanical systems is indicated in Figure 4. In general, anatural system will require an operator one grade lower than that required by amechanical system. This helps alleviate the burden of finding higher leveloperators with larger salary demands. There is a recent trend of these states torequire a minimum of a high school diploma in order to be considered forcertification on any level.


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Figure 5 is a graph of the operating and maintenance (O&M)costs for the various systems from 1 to 0.1 mgd treatment capacity. All costswere obtained from the referenced manual in the next section. Costs have beenindexed to EPA's Operation, Maintenance and Repair Index of Direct Costfor the first quarter of 1993 (4.3). Costs included are labor, energy,chemicals, and materials such as replacement equipment and parts.


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All costs are presented in dollars per thousand gallons oftreated wastewater. The O&M cost for mechanical systems is significantlylarger than any of the other systems particularly at the smaller flow. The costfor harvesting of aquaculture systems is not included. This could be asignificant cost for some systems.


Figure 6 is a graph of the capital cost of these processes.Cost is represented as cost per unit of capacity, which in this case is gallonsper day. Cost data for this graph was obtained from the EPA publication,Innovative and Alternative Technology Assessment Manual, with theexception of wetland and aquaculture data, which was obtained from more recentsources. All costs were inflated to March, 1993 (ENR CCI 5100).


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All costs exclude the cost of land. All natural systemshave a facultative lagoon as a primary unit. The cost forchlorination/dechlorination is included for all systems except slow rate andrapid infiltration. The cost of liners is not included for any of the aquaticsystems.

The mechanical system represented, was derived from costs foran oxidation ditch. Included in this cost are clarifiers, oxidation ditch,pumps, building, laboratory, and sludge drying beds. These costs include thecost of engineering, and construction management, in addition to the costs forpiping, electrical, instrumentation, and site preparation not included in theconstruction cost curves.


The Present Worth costs depicted in Figure 7 were derived fromthe previous two graphs. Present worth represents costs as an equivalent costthat is the current investment required to satisfy all project costs over itslifetime. The annual O&M cost was convened using the uniform-series presentworth factor at an interest rate of 6.5% for 20 years, and added to the capitalcost. Cost data is presented in dollars per gpd of treatment capacity and withina treatment capacity range of 1 to 0.1 mgd.


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All natural systems are significantly more cost effective thanmechanical systems, particularly at the lower flow depicted. This is an overlysimplistic evaluation and a rigorous present worth analysis would include manymore factors to be evaluated. It does, however, allow us to view O&M costsin the same perspective as our capital costs, and although a more detailedanalysis will most likely change the numbers, it is doubtful that it would alterthe conclusion.


Many communities around the world, in both the developed anddeveloping world, are reaching the limits of their available water supplies;consequently, water reclamation and reuse has become an attractive option forconserving water. Figure 8 outlines the relative importance of the naturalsystems contributions toward sustainable development in addition to their roleas a treatment process.


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These systems can be grouped into three categories relative totheir contribution to sustainable development in developing countries:

1. Relative low operational and capital costand low technical manpower requirements while capable of achieving high degreeof treatment: lagoons supplemented by sand filters, constructed wetlands,aquacultures, and overland flow systems.

2. Groundwater recharge: Rapid infiltration and tolesser extent slow rate systems.

3. Reforestation, pasture and crop irrigation: Slowrate systems.

Costs and manpower requirements were discuss previously. Someof the reforestation, pasture and crop irrigation potential are shown on Figure9. Specifically, slow rate systems can provide an economic return from the reuseof wastewater to irrigate marketable crops, reforestation and pasture forlivestock. The crop is a critical component in the slow rate process. It removesnutrient, reduces erosion, maintains or increases infiltration rates, andproduces revenues.




Revenue Producer

Water User

Nitrogen User

Moisture Tolerance























Reed Canary Grass










Tall Fescue
















This table was taken from the EPA process designmanual: Land Treatment of Municipal Wastewater.

One of the most critical steps in any reuse program is toassure health protection of the field workers and consumers. The principalinfectious agents that may be present in wastewater are: pathogenicmicroorganisms and chemical constituents. Secondary treatment maybe acceptablefor reuse application for such systems as irrigation of non-food crops. Also,the most important process for the destruction of microorganisms is disinfectionby such methods as chlorine. Figure 10 presents typical survival times forpotential pathogens in water.



Survival Time (days)


Fresh Water and Sewage




<120 but usually <50

<60 but usually <15

<100 but usually <20


<60 but usually <30

<30 but usually <15

<70 but usually <20


<30 but usually <15

<10 but usually <2

<20 but usually <10


Many months

<60 but usually <30

Many months

This table was taken from the EPA manual:Guidelines for Water Reuse.
In United States of America, the use of reclaimed water forirrigation of food crops is prohibited in some states, while others allowirrigation of food crops with reclaimed water only if the crop is to beprocessed and not eaten raw. The less stringent requirements are for irrigationof non-food crops. Figure 11 shows suggested guidelines for water reuse forcategories critical for sustainable development in developing countries. Forexample, if food crops are surface irrigated such that there is no contactbetween the edible portion of the crop and the reclaimed water, a disinfected,secondary-treated effluent is acceptable. For crops that are eaten raw and notcommercially processed water reuse is more restrictive and less economicallyattractive.



Types of Reuse


Reclaimed Water Quality

Reclaimed Water Monitoring

Setback Distances

Agricultural Reuse
· Food Crops CommerciallyProcessed
· Orchards andVineyards

· Secondary
· Disinfection

· pH = 6-9
· £30mg/l BOD
· £30mg/l SS
· £200 fecal coli/100ml
· 1mg/l Cl2 residualmin.

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable watersupply wells
· 100 ft(30m) to areasaccessible to public

· Pasture for milk* animals andlivestock

· Secondary
· Disinfection

· pH = 6-9
· £30mg/l BOD
· £30mg/l SS
· £200 fecal coli/100ml
· 1mg/l Cl2 residualmin.

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable watersupply wells
· 100 ft (30m) to areasaccessible to public


· Secondary
· Disinfection

· pH = 6-9
· £30mg/l BOD
· £30mg/l SS
· £200 fecal coli/100ml
· 1mg/l Cl2 residualmin.

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable watersupply wells
· 100 ft(30m) to areasaccessible to public

· Food crops not commerciallyprocessed

· Secondary
· Filtration
· Disinfection

· pH = 6-9
· £10mg/l BOD
· £2 NTU
· No Detectable fecal coli per100ml
· 1mg/l Cl2 residualmin.

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· Turbidity-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2residual-continuous

· 50 ft(15m) to potable watersupply wells

Groundwater Recharge

· Site specific and usedependent

· Site specific and usedependent

· Depends on treatment anduse

· Site specific

This table was taken from the EPA manual:Guidelines for Water Reuse.

* Milking animals should be prohibited from grazing for 15days after irrigation ceases. A higher level of disinfection, to achieve 14fecal coli/100 ml or less, should be provided if this waiting period is notadhered to.


Figure 12 is a depiction of the range of acres of landrequired per mgd of treatment capacity. All of natural systems include afacultative lagoon as a primary treatment unit. Slow rate systems require asmuch as 760 acres, while mechanical plants are the least land intensive withvery small requirements. The high end of these ranges represents the worst casescenario. In making a preliminary evaluation, the midpoint of these rangesshould be used. It will be necessary to make a better determination prior tofinal process selection.


Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (20)


Figure 13 examines each process with respect to geology,topography, ground water, and climate. The rating system of critical,important, and slight/none, is used in relative terms.


Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (21)

Critical, means that the limitation may be sounfavorable, that it may not be possible to construct that process. An examplewould be slopes greatly in excess of 6% for a site considered for overland flow.Although it is not impossible that this limitation could be overcome, theadditional cost would most likely render this option moot when compared withmore viable options.

A rating of important signifies that the limitation,though not severe enough to preclude the process, may require significantincreases in cost in order to overcome the limitation. By assigning a rating ofslight/none, it is not intended that this limitation be overlooked. Ingeneral, this rating implies that the limitation can easily be overcome withlittle or no increase in cost.


EPA's innovative and alternative (I/A) program was verysuccessful at promoting the development and application of more cost effective,environmentally sound wastewater treatment technologies. Through financialincentives, an active research and development effort, and an aggressivetechnology transfer program, the I/A program significantly advanced professionaland public acceptance of natural systems.

Figure 14 is a graph showing the number of projects funded insome of the categories discussed. This data was taken from a 1989 report tocongress. This does not represent the total number of active systems, only thosethat received federal funding. Since the conclusion of the I/A program, thesesystems continue to increase in usage and acceptability. For instance, a surveyconducted in USEPA Region IV in 1991 identified 48 constructed wetland systemscurrently in use in the region.


Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (22)


(Video) PUW PUBLIC SESSION 2 Water for the Future in Southeast Asian Cities

This paper focused on appropriate technologies for wastewatertreatment based on the principle of sustainable development. Treatmentperformance, costs and personnel requirements were compared competitively toconventional systems of wastewater treatment.

In addition to wastewater treatment these systems also showgood economic potential for water reuse in the areas of reforestation,agriculture, pasture, and water conservation where there is sufficient landavailable. In United States of America there are hundreds of these systems inuse.

It must be emphasized that in order for a water reuse programto be successful with these technologies stringent regulations, monitoring andcontrol of water quality must be exercised in order to protect the field workerand the consumer.


Wastewater options described in this paper were obtained fromEPA references listed at the end of this abstract. Contributions were also madeby John Harkins, Bruce Henry P.E., Hector Danois, and Jim Adcock members of theTechnology Transfer staff.


EPA. 1993. Environmental Protection Agency. Presentation: TheTechnical Appropriateness of wastewater treatment options for small communities.Atlanta, GA. Technology Transfer, Water Division.

EPA. 1992. Environmental Protection Agency. Manual: Guidelinesfor Water Reuse. Cincinnati, OH. EPA/625/R-92/004

EPA. 1992. Environmental Protection Agency. Manual: WastewaterTreatment/Disposal for Small Communities. Cincinnati, OH.EPA/625/R-92/005

EPA. 1980. Environmental Protection Agency. Innovative andAlternative Technology Assessment Manual. Washington, DC.EPA/430/9-78-009

Latin American and Caribbean Commission on Development andEnvironment. 1990. Report: Our Own Agenda. Inter-American Development Bank,Wash. D.C.

New World Dialogue on Environment and Development in theWestern Hemisphere. 1990. Report: Compact for a New World.

EPA. 1988. Environmental Protection Agency. Design Manual:Constructed Wetlands and Aquatic Plant Systems. Cincinnati, OH.EPA/625/1-88/022

EPA. 1985. Environmental Protection Agency. TechnologyAssessment of Intermittent Sand Filters. Cincinnati, OH.

EPA. 1983. Environmental Protection Agency. Design Manual:Municipal Wastewater Stabilization Ponds. EPA/625/1-83-015

EPA. 1981. Environmental Protection Agency. Process DesignManual: Land Treatment of Municipal Wastewater. Cincinnati, OH.EPA/625/1-81-013

EPA. 1980. Environmental Protection Agency. Design Manual:Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems. EPA/625/1-80-012

EPA. 1980. Environmental Protection Agency. PlanningWastewater Management Facilities for Small Communities. Cincinnati, OH.EPA-600/8-80-030

EPA. 1990. Environmental Protection Agency. State DesignCriteria for Wastewater Treatment Systems. Washington D.C. EPA430/09-90-014

EPA. 1989. Environmental Protection Agency. Effectiveness ofthe Innovative and Alternative Wastewater Treatment Technology Program: Reportto Congress. Washington D.C. EPA 430/09-89-009

Reed, S.C., E.J. Middlebrooks, R.W. Crites. Natural Systemsfor Waste Management and Treatment. McGraw Hill Book Company. NY, 1988

WPCF, 1990. Water Pollution Control Federation. NaturalSystems for Wastewater Treatment. Manual of Practice FD-16. Alexandria,VA.

Appendix A



Treatment goal

Detention time, days


Organic loading

Oxidation pond



3-4.5 ft

36-110 lb/ac x d
(40-120 kg/ha x d)

Facultative pond



4.5-7.5 ft

20-60 lb/ac x d
(22-67 kg/ha x d)

Aerated pond

Secondary & polishing


6-18 ft

45-180 lb/ac x d
(50-120 kg/ha x d)

Storage & HCR ponds

Secondary & storage & polishing


9-15 ft

20-60 lb/ac x d
(22-67 kg/ha x d)

Hyacinth* pond



<4.5 ft

<45 lb/ac x d
(<50 kg/ha x d)

The above table is taken from Natural Systemsfor Waste Management and Treatment, by S.C. Reed, E.J. Middlebrooks, andR.W. Crites, McGraw Hill Book Co. NY, 1988.

* Water hyacinth systems are sensitive to freezing; year rounduse is restricted to the warm temperate climates of the southernstates.


Design Factor

Free-water surface

Submerged bed

Min. Size Requirement

23-115 ac/1 mgd
(2.5-12.3 ha/1000 m³ x d)

2.3-46 ac/1 mgd
(.25-4.9 ha/1000 m³ x d)

Max. Water Depth

Relatively shallow

Water level below ground surface

Bed Depth


12-30 inches (30-76 cm)

Min. Hydraulic Residence Time in Days



Max. Hydraulic Loading Rate per Day

.2-1.0 gpd/sq ft
(10-40 L/m²/d)

5-10 gpd/sq ft
(.02-.4 m³/m²/d)

Min. Pretreatment

Primary (Secondary opt)


Range of Organic Loading as BOD

9-18 lb/ac x d
(10-20 kg/ha x d)

1.8-140 lb/ac x d
(2-160 kg/ha x d)

The above table is taken from the EPA Manual No.EPA/625/R-92/005, September, 1992: Wastewater Treatment/Disposal for SmallCommunities.
Appendix A


Design Factor





Minimum of Sedimentation

Media Material

Washed, Durable Granular Material

Effective Size

.40-1.00 mm

.40-1.00 mm

.40-1.00 mm

Unit. Coeff.





24-36 inches
(61-91 cm)

24-36 inches
(61-91 cm)

24-36 inches
(61-91 cm)

Hydraulic Loading

<1.5 gpd/ft2
(<6.1 cm/day)

2-5 gpd/ft2
(8.2-20.4 cm/day)

3-5 gpd/ft2
(12.2-20.4 cm/day)

Organic Loading

< 5 x 10-³ lbs.BOD5/day/ft2
(< 2.4 x 10-² kg.BOD5/day/m2)

Media Temp.


Dosing Frequency

>2 per day

>2 per day

5-10 min./30 min.

Recirculation Ratio



3:1 to 5:1

The above table is taken from the EPA publicationof April, 1985: Technology Assessment of Intermittent SandFilters.



Slow Rate

Rapid Infiltration

Subsurface Infiltration

Overland Flow






Average daily loading depth or in 1,000 gal/ac

.5-.6 inches
(1.2-1.5 cm)

.6-4 inches
(1.5-10 cm)

.1-1.6 inches
(.2-4.0 cm)

.4-2.4 inches
(1.0-6.0 cm)

BOD5 (mg/l)





SS (mg/l)





TN (mg/l)





TP (mg/l)





Fecal Colif. (per 100 ml.)





Virus, log removal ave.




< 1

Metals, (%) removal







Slow Rate

Rapid Infiltration

Subsurface Infiltration

Overland Flow

Soil texture

Sandy loam to day loam

Sands & sandy loam

Sandy to day loam

Silt loams & day loam

Depth to groundwater

3 ft.
(1 m)

3 ft.
(1 m)

3 ft.
(1 m)

Not critical




Not applicable


Climatic restrictions

Growing season



Growing season


<20% cult. land
<40% uncult.

Not critical


Finished slopes 2-8%

The above tables are taken from the EPA Manual No.EPA/625/R-92/005, September, 1992: Wastewater Treatment/Disposal for SmallCommunities.

Sub-track: Economics andFinancing

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (23)

Water Management Problems and the World Bank's New Water Policy Financing Investments in Water Supply and Sanitation
Mechanisms for Financing the Development of Public Work Infrastructure
Designing Appropriate Financial Arrangements to Ensure the Proper Operation and Maintenance of Water Supply Facilities
Environmental Issues and Restrictions from the Perspective of the Borrowing Countries
Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment and Health
An Investigation of the Barriers to Private Sector Participation in Water Resources and Sewerage Services in Latin America

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (24)

Water Management Problems and the World Bank's New Water Policy

K. William Easter1

1 Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108, USA

With the growing water problems facing many countries in thedeveloping world, new ways are needed to manage this valuable economic resource.Just because water is essential for human survival doesn't mean that governmentsmust deliver all water services to the individual consumer. It is time toconsider a change in the traditional role of government in the water sector fromthat of a builder and provider of all water services to one of a facilitator,and regulator of service providers. In the first part of this paper I willoutline the growing demands for water and the serious water problems this posesfor developing countries and explain why it is time to consider changinggovernment's role in the water sector. In the second part, I will outline theWorld Bank's new water policy that we developed to help address theseproblems.

Water Use and Future Demands

Human use of water has increased more than 35-fold over thepast three centuries and 4-fold since 1940. Recently, water withdrawals havebeen increasing 4-8 percent per year, with the bulk of the demand arising in thedeveloping world. Sixty-nine percent is used for agriculture, 23 percent forindustry, and 8 percent for domestic uses. In Asia and Africa, over 85 percentof the water is used for agriculture. Average consumption rates vary widely withper capita consumption in North and Central American being over twice Europe's,three times that in Asia's and seven times that of Africa.

With the world's population growing to at least 8 billion by2025, and assuming steadily rising living standards, the demand for water willincrease dramatically. Much of the population growth will be concentrated inurban areas. By the year 2000, seventeen of the world's twenty-four cities withover ten million inhabitants will be in developing countries, compared to onlyone in 1960. Feeding and providing cheap, clean and reliable water supplies tothese numbers will place new demands on the world's water resources.

Food Production

One-third of the total world's food production comes fromirrigated land. Since 1950, the irrigated area has grown by 2.5 times - a keyfactor in allowing food production to keep up with the growth in food demand.Over the past 25 years, the expansion of irrigation has accounted for overone-half the increase in global food production. But it is now becomingincreasingly difficult to sustain this expansion. Irrigable land and water arebecoming increasingly scarce. Costs of new irrigation are rising rapidly andthere are growing environmental concerns about large water projects and theoverexploitation of groundwater. Although an estimated additional 110 million hain developing countries are potentially irrigable, it is likely that locationdisadvantages, and high investment and operational costs will greatly reducefuture expansion. In fact, the expansion of the area irrigated in the 1970s wasat only about half the 1960's rate. Thus it appears that the strategy adopted bythe World Bank and other international agencies, over the past twenty-fiveyears, of expanding agricultural production by increasing irrigated area, highyielding varieties, and fertilizer use is no longer sustainable. New irrigatedareas are not likely to be the major source of new food supplies; rather thefocus must be on more efficient utilization of water in existing irrigationsystems. This challenge is particularly acute in countries with mature watersystems and where some of the water currently used for irrigation will need tobe reallocated to higher valued uses.

Domestic and Industrial Uses

With regard to domestic needs, about 1 billion people indeveloping countries do not have access to potable water, particularly the ruralpoor, and 1.7 billion have inadequate sanitation facilities. As a resultwaterborne diseases, which constitute 80 percent of all diseases in developingcountries, contaminated water impose a huge burden on many countries. Unsafewater is implicated in the deaths of more than 3 million people, mostlychildren, from diarrhea and causes about 900 million episodes of illness eachyear. A safe water supply is thus literally a life and death issue. Improvingaccess to water and sanitation makes good economic sense. For example, in justthe first ten weeks of the cholera epidemic in Peru, losses from reducedagricultural exports and tourism were estimated at $1 billion - more than threetimes the amount that the country had invested in water supply and sanitationservices in the 1980s.

Box: 1. Increasing Costs of WaterSupply

Many cities convey water over long distances and makeextensive use of high-cost pumping. In addition, intensive water use has createdthe necessity for additional water treatment due to a decline in water qualityor rejection of the existing source because of the irreversible damage caused toits quality.

Amman: When the water supply system was based ongroundwater, the average incremental cost (AIC) was estimated at $0.41 per cubicmeter, but chronic shortages of groundwater led to the use of surface watersources. This raised the AIC to $1.33 per cubic meter. The most recent worksinvolve pumping water up 1,200 meters from a site about 40 kilometers from thecity. The next scheme contemplates the construction of a dam and a conveyor, atan estimated cost of $1.5 per cubic meter, which is also about the cost ofdesalinating sea water of $1 to $2 per cubic meter.

Shenyang (China): The cost of new water supplieswould rise between 1988 and 2000 from $0.04 to $0.11 per cubic meter, almost a200 percent increase. The main reason is that groundwater from the Hun ValleyAlluvium, the current water source, has to be rejected as a source of potablewater for reasons of water quality. As a result, water will have to be conveyedto Shenyang by gravity from a surface source 51 kilometers from the city. InYingkuo, the AIC of water diverted from the nearby Daliao River is about $0.16per cubic meter. However, because of the heavy pollution, this source cannot beused for domestic purposes. As a result, water is currently being transportedinto the city from the more distant Bi Liu River at a cost of $0.30 per cubicmeter.

Lima: During 1981, the AIC of a project to meetshort- to medium-term needs, based in part both on a surface source from theRimac River and on groundwater supplies, was $0.25 per cubic meter. Since theaquifer has been severely depleted, groundwater sources cannot be used tosatisfy needs beyond the early 1990s. To meet long-term urban needs, a transferof water from the Atlantic watershed is being planned, the AIC of which has beenestimated at $0.53 per cubic meter.

Mexico City: Water is currently being pumpedover an elevation of 1,000 meters into the Mexico Valley from the CutzamalaRiver through a pipeline about 180 kilometer long. The AIC of water from thissource is $0.82 per cubic meter, almost 55 percent more than the previoussource, the Mexico Valley aquifer. The former source has been restricted due tothe problems of land subsidence, the lowering of the water table, and thedeterioration in water quality. The newly designed water supply project for thecity is expected to be even more costly, since it will have a longertransmission line, and water will be pumped over an elevation of 2,000 meters tothe city.

* Costs exclude treatment and distribution.

The time devoted to fetching water for domestic use oftenrepresents a heavy cost for rural households and imposes a terrible burden onwomen. In some areas women spend over 15 percent of their time in this activity.The benefits of rural water supply projects can be enormous. In the case of aMozambique village, a water supply project reduced the average time that womenspent collecting water from 120 to 25 minutes a day. The time saved can be spenton better child care, food production, and other economic activities.

In the urban areas, both domestic and industrial users arefacing steeply rising costs of new supplies - sometimes twice or three timesprevious costs. For example, for Amman (Jordan) new supplies cost over threetimes present costs (Box 1). In Lima (Peru), to meet their long term needs, theywill have to transfer water from an Atlantic watershed at over twice the currentcosts.

Water Quality Requirements

Besides supplying water to domestic, industrial andagricultural users, countries are increasingly faced with major environmentalproblems related to the management of water resources. For example, manyfisheries and wetlands depend on continuous river flows of reasonable qualityand are threatened by growing water withdrawals. Currently, in numerouscountries, the quantities and qualities of water being allocated for instreamand flooding uses are inadequate to sustain valuable water dependentecosystems.

Moreover, in many places, groundwater resources are seriouslyat risk from overexploitation and contamination by urban and agriculturalpollutants and salt water intrusion. In the case of non-renewable groundwater,greater attention needs to be given to possible future uses for these resourcesbefore they become exhausted or polluted. There are cases where non-renewablegroundwater that could be an important source of water for future domestic orindustrial use is currently being pumped to irrigate low-valued crops. Where theover pumping involves international or interstate aquifers, managing the waterextraction becomes a difficult political task. For example, Saudi Arabia's usesgroundwater for irrigation from the same aquifer that Jordan would like to savefor future urban use (Box 2).

Box: 2. Water Scarcity in Jordan

Water resources in Jordan are scarce and expensive to exploit.But their effective management is key to meeting the needs of irrigatedagriculture, which accounts for 19 percent of exports, and those of industry andthe population. Jordan's economy has been transformed since the early 1950s,when its population was only 0.6 million, with agriculture largely confined torainfed farming and livestock raising. Population is currently 3.2 million,increasing at 3.8 percent per annum, and increasing urbanization (currently 70percent of the population) and rising incomes have brought about increasingdemands for water. Approximately 48,500 hectares have been brought underirrigation in the Jordan Valley, the northern highlands, and the Disi wells areain south-east Jordan. This has raised increasing concerns about the balance ofwater use between irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I)purposes.

Jordan's water resources have been relatively well studied.The long-term safe yield of groundwater within Jordanian territory, excludingfossil aquifers, is estimated at about 356Mm3 per year. Surface waterresources are estimated at 540Mm³ per year. Present surface waterconsumption is estimated at 336Mm3 per year, of which almost all isused for irrigation. The topography and geological features of the valleys haverequired construction of expensive storage facilities to use surface watereffectively. The strategy in the past has been to use surface water principallyfor irrigation and groundwater for both M&I and irrigation. This strategyhas been rational given the better quality of groundwater and its concentrationin the uplands where the majority of the population live. However, waterscarcities are such that this strategy is being modified.

Municipal and industrial (M&I) water currently accountsfor about 25 percent of total water use, and water consumption is modest for acountry with Jordan's per capita income. Water is metered and charges are highby the region's standards. However, as the population is expected to increasefrom 3.2 million in 1990 to 7.4 million in 2015, even with modest consumptionrates, M&I water demand is expected to increase so that by 2015, it willaccount for about 40 percent of total water demand. In response to the growingscarcity, irrigation is now done by sprinkler and drip irrigation pressure pipesystems that have largely replaced surface irrigation.

There are three remaining under-exploited sources of water inJordan. These are (a) water which would be made available by construction of astorage facility on the Yarmouk River, known as Wahdeh (or Unity) Dam, with ayield of 149Mm3 annually; (b) water from the Disi wells in south-eastJordan with an estimated safe yield of 110Mm3 for 100 years; and (c)treated sewage effluent, which will be increasingly available for collection andre-use for irrigation (about 165Mm3 per year in 2015).

Water planning strategies in the 1980s envisaged using all thewater from the proposed Wahdeh dam for irrigation, permitting an expansion ofirrigated area in the Jordan Valley. Licenses were also granted for developmentof the Disi aquifer for irrigated agriculture. Increasing awareness by thegovernment of water scarcities, however, brought about a revision of thisstrategy. It was realized that the Disi aquifer should be regarded as astrategic reserve, to be used for M&I water as the need arose, and that“mining” this water source for agriculture was not in the interests ofthe country. An additional complication arises because the Disi aquifer is alsobeing mined for irrigation by Saudi Arabia. Thus, this source of future M&Iwater may only be saved through an international agreement between Jordan andSaudi Arabia.

Source: World Bank Water Resources Management Policy Paper,1993.

Water Management Problems

All these considerations has lead to the conclusion that waterresources must be better managed. Current practices are not sustainable fromeither an economic or an environmental perspective. Presently in many countries,low-valued uses consume a significant share of the water resources whilehigh-value uses face shortages. Furthermore, unaccounted-for water isunacceptably high in many urban areas. For example, it amounts to 58 percent ofthe water delivered in Manila's water supply system and about 40 percent of thewater delivered in most Latin American cities as compared to only 8 percent inSingapore. In Algeria, distribution losses alone are as high as 40 percent. Someof the losses are due to poor system design and management, while others arisefrom the low price charged for water. For example, a recent review of WorldBank-financed water supply projects showed that the effective price charged forwater was only about 35 percent of the average cost of supply, while forirrigation, the water charges cover a much smaller share of average cost and aregenerally not based on the volume taken.

Let me briefly summarize the current weakness in watermanagement practices that have caused misallocation, pollution, and waste ofwater resources:

· Fragmented waterresources management (Box 3).

· Excessive reliance onover-extended governmental agencies lacking the proper incentivestructure.

· Failure to decentralize thedelivery of water services and the lack of stakeholder, community, andprivate-sector involvement.

· Inadequate coordination ofinternational and interstate water resource use and development.

· Underpricing of water and lackof cost recovery.

· Inadequate delivery of waterand sewage services, especially for the poor.

· The neglect of water quality,health, and environment concerns in water resourcesmanagement.

Box: 3. Fragmented Water Resources Management: Examplesfrom South India

Over-development of water resources has already occurred in anumber of countries primarily due to fragmented decision-making. One example isprovided by the Chittar River in South India. Its highly variable flows havetraditionally been diverted at many points into small reservoirs (tanks) used toirrigate the main rice crop, following monsoon rains. Diversion channels arelarge to accommodate flood flows. Thus, when a storage dam was constructed, theuppermost channel was able to absorb essentially all the regulated flow. Theupper tanks now tend to remain full throughout the year, concentrating benefitsand adding to evaporation losses. The more extensive lower areas have largelyreverted to uncertain rainfed cultivation. Construction of the storage damwithout adequate considerations of downstream users and of the storage capacityalready m the basin is a good example of how individual project development inisolation can cause significant economic losses.

The construction of the Sathanur Dam in Tamil Nadu on thePonnair River to serve a left bank command area deprived the traditional andproduction delta areas of irrigation water. The rights of downstream irrigatorsare recognized in the dam operating rules, but most of the regulated flow belowthe dam is diverted into the upper channels, depriving those lower down. Losseshave greatly increased in the wide sandy bed, and no surface water has reachedthe sea for twenty or more years. Continued spills in about 50 percent of allyears were used to justify subsequent construction of the right bank irrigationcommand, further aggravating shortages in the delta and leading to endlessconflict between the two Sathanur commands. Moreover, additional storage dams onupstream tributaries are adding to evaporation losses in what was already fullydeveloped basin. Irrigation intensities in the productive delta have beenfurther affected, and the Sathanur command areas m turn are suffering. Highreturn cropping is replaced by cultivation on inherently less productive lands,served by tributaries that are inherently more variable than was the main riverpreviously.

The Amaravarthy River is a tributary of the Cauvery which isthe most disputed major river in India. In the absence of Cauvery agreement,Kamataka (the upstream riparian state) has steadily developed massive irrigationschemes, depriving the delta (Tamil Nadu's rice bowl) of its accustomedsupplies. Moreover, Tamil Nadu has been developing the Amaravarthy. As atSanthanur, releases are made from the Amaravarthy Dam for the traditional areas,but these areas are far downstream, and substitution of regulated flows has beenencouraged the development of private pumps along the river bank. New electricconnections have now been banned, but little can be done to control illegalconnections or diesel pump, and little water now reaches the lower commandareas, let alone the Cauvery. Finally, new storage dams are being constructed ontributaries both in Kerela and Tamil Nadu, further depriving not only the oldlands but also the new lands and the pump areas of water source.

The Bank's New Policy

In response to these past weaknesses in water policies andproblems of government failure, many countries, as well as internationalagencies such as the World Bank, have taken a critical look at their activitiesin the water resources sector. For the World Bank, it resulted in a new waterresources management policy that was approved by the World Bank Board ofDirectors on May 25, 1993 and published in September, 1993. This was theculmination of a process that started officially with a June 1991 workshopinvolving representatives from many borrowing and donor countries. This workshopidentified major issues that the participants thought should be addressed in thewater policy. They were especially concerned about:

· intersectoralwater allocation and pricing issues.
· environmental and healthproblems, and
· international and interstatewater resources conflicts.
As you would expect, all of these issues have been addressedin the Bank water policy along with a number of additional concerns. The policyhas been revised extensively based on comments from both within and outside theBank. Reviewers include UNDP, FAO, UNEP, and WHO, as well as NGOs fromdeveloping and developed countries.

At the core of the new policy is the adoption of acomprehensive management framework which calls for water to be treated as aneconomic good. It recommends a more decentralized system of service delivery,greater reliance on pricing, and financial autonomous service entities, alongwith fuller participation of water users in the management of water resourcesystems. It encourages countries to develop national water strategies withcoherent and consistent policies and regulations across sectors. Let me brieflyunderline the main features:

· Countries need todevelop a comprehensive analytical framework for water resourcesmanagement that is suitable for a country's needs, resources and capabilities.Such a framework will allow the incorporation of cross-sectoral andenvironmental considerations in the design of investments and policies, byrecognizing the interactions between the various elements of a river basin'secosystem.

· Countries should place greateremphasis on incentives for efficient water use and on financialaccountability of water entities. They should increase the reliance on pricingas a management device which reflects resource scarcity and encourages efficientutilization of the resource.

· Governments will need toestablish a strong legal and regulatory framework for dealing with thepricing, monopoly organizations, environmental protection, and other aspects ofwater management which are not adequately handled by unrestrained marketforces.

· Governments need todecentralize water service delivery responsibilities to the privatesector, to financially autonomous entities, and to community organizations, suchas water user associations.

· Countries should encourage theparticipation of stakeholders in planning, designing, implementing, andmanaging of water resource activities.

· Governments must take on anactive role in protecting, enhancing, and restoring water quality and waterdependent ecosystems, and to abate water pollution.

· Countries must give greaterpriority to providing adequate water and sanitation services for the poor,thus helping to stop the spread of disease in crowded low-incomeareas.

· The Bank will be moreproactive in helping countries resolve international water resourcesissues and in sharing information concerning these water resources (Box4).

Box 4: The Indus Waters Treaty

When the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, the politicalboundary abruptly cut off two irrigation canal systems of Pakistan from theirsource in India. The dispute started in 1948, when India stopped the suppliesand claimed propriety rights over the waters flowing through its territory. In1951 the former chairman of the TVA warned that the dispute was dangerous andsuggested that the World Bank help the countries to develop the Indus system.The Bank President promptly offered assistance, and the delegations from the twocountries met in Washington in May 1952 to prepare a joint plan. They differedtoo sharply in their views, however, to pursue joint planning. The Banksuggested that each side should present a plan of its own. Again, their planswere too far apart to be reconciled. They agreed, however, to the Bank's offerto present its own proposal.

In February 1954, the Bank presented a proposal that allocatedthe eastern rivers (the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) to India and the western rivers(the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan. This proposal envisaged constructionof a system of link canals from the western rivers to replace Pakistan's uses onthe eastern rivers, a transition period to allow Pakistan to complete theseprojects, and the need for India to pay the project costs and to continuesending the supplies during the transition period. The Bank said its proposalwas simple, workable, and fair. This division would meet the uses of both sidesand leave each free to develop new supplies. India accepted the proposal.Pakistan's acceptance was conditional; it contended that there was not enoughsurplus in the western rivers to replace its uses on the easternrivers.

The delegations met again in Washington in December 1954 towork on the Bank's proposal. After extensive studies of the available flowsupplies and river losses and gains, the Bank issued an aide-memoir in May 1954that confirmed that the surplus supplies in the western rivers would beinsufficient to meet Pakistan's replacement needs in certain periods and thatits original proposal had to be modified to include storage works. Pakistanaccepted the modified proposal, but India said its financial liability should belimited to the original Bank proposal.

The next four years of negotiations to reconcile differenceson several issues were difficult. During this time, the Bank was also able tomobilize the support of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, andthe United States for financial assistance. Thus, after long, intensive, andsensitive discussions, the Indus Water Treaty was finally signed on September19, 1960.

The Bank's success was due to its recognized technicalexpertise and neutrality along with its ability to provide financial assistance.The Indus Waters Treaty is a landmark in the Bank's role as an internationalmediator. It suggest both the difficulty of negotiation agreements and the needfor greater involvement of international agencies, such as the Bank, in helpingcountries negotiate agreements for managing international waterresources.

World Bank's Lending and Future FinancialNeeds

The Bank, from its early days, has had a very activeassistance program for water resources management. By the end of 1991, the Bankhad lent over US$40 billion for water projects, almost half of which was forirrigation. Present lending plans envisage a continued active involvement inwater resources management: US$18.3 billion are projected to be lent for waterresource investments by the Bank during 1993-98.

Yet the financial requirements to meet future demands forirrigation, hydropower, water supply and sanitation investments in developmentcountries, estimated to be US$600-700 billion over the next decade, are muchlarger than the Bank's lending capacities. Thus, the Bank will only be able tofinance a small share of the demands. A greater part of the capital will have tocome from water users themselves. This implies that the much greater emphasis oncost recovery, financial accountability, user participation, and private sectorinvolvement, promoted in the new Bank policy, will be absolutely necessary ifcountries are to meet their domestic water and food supply needs in the nextcentury.


This is an ambitious agenda. In most countries itsimplementation will be gradual, dealing first with priority issues which differfrom country to country. Programs need to be tailored to the institutionalcapacity of the country. In many cases, capacity will need to be enhanced, andthis takes time. Implementation of the policy recommendations within the Bankwill take time too, as staff skills must be upgraded, skills mixes adjusted andprocedures developed and improved.

Some progress have already been made as a number of countriesare in the process or have adopted water policies that reflect some of the basicfeatures of the Bank's policy. Countries such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines, andIndonesia have adopted the approach of promoting and expanding the role of wateruser associations (WUAs) in water management and system ownership. Othercountries such as Chile and Mexico have taken the additional step of using watermarkets as another mechanism to decentralize and improve water management. Stillothers, including Pakistan and Peru, are in the process of considering radicalchanges in their current water management.


As proposed in the World Bank's new water policy, countriesneed to develop a two-pronged approach to their water resources management.First, they need to emphasize over-all water resource planning and second, theymust work towards decentralizing the actual delivery of water services. How theydo this will vary from county to country and should reflect each country's goalsand objectives. For example, some countries may want to turn over the deliveryof water services to the private sector, while others may use financialautonomous public utilities. The key component is to make those delivering theservices accountable to the water users.

To compliment these efforts to improve the delivery of waterservice, countries must develop mechanisms to coordinate their water planningand development activities. Most countries can no longer afford the luxury ofindependent agencies developing water for their own purposes such as hydropower,irrigation, or urban water support, without concern for other potential uses.Water resources must be considered as an economic good in an overall river basincontext so that the interdependencies in water use are taken into account rightfrom the early planning stages.


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Financing Investments in Water Supplyand Sanitation

Terence R. Lee1

1 Economic Commission for Latin Americaand the Caribbean, Casilla 179, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile.

The reintroduction of cholera into Latin America since 1991has focused attention on the deplorable state of excreta disposal in most of thecities in the region. The proportion of the population provided with seweragehas increased in recent years, but not to the same extent as has the provisionof water supply (ECLAC, 1990a). The lack of sewerage is compounded by theabsence of sewage treatment. Only 10 percent of sewage systems provide evenpartial treatment before discharge (PAHO, 1990). As a result, there iswidespread contamination of the water bodies into which urban sewage isdischarged and the facile transmission of diarrheal diseases through water orfood is always a menacing possibility (ECLAC, 1992).

Financing investments in water supply and sanitation has beena perennial problem in all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.Traditionally, the contribution to capital funding derived from the income ofoperating companies has been very small, a direct consequence of unrealisticallylow tariffs. Instead, financing for investments has been obtained largely fromgeneral government revenues through either direct contributions or through theunderwriting of loans, especially the multilateral development banks. The levelsof financial support obtained and the share of the different sources has changedin recent years, particularly as the contribution from general tax revenues hasdeclined.

The financing needs are not limited to the initial capitalinvestment, but include the need to generate funds for the operation andmaintenance of the systems once built. Moreover, the financial demands of watersupply and sewerage systems are growing as population increases and watersources grow more distant and as it becomes increasingly necessary to dispose ofhuman and industrial wastes safely.

A recent study shows that “the funding of capitalinvestments in water-related projects is mainly provided from nationalsources” (ECLAC, 1990b). In the last decade more than 70% of capitalfunding for the expansion of water supply and sanitation services has comedirectly from national sources (PAHO, 1987). During the International WaterSupply and Sanitation Decade, the share of external funding, including loans, incapital investment in water supply and sanitation services has been lower forthe countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as a whole, than in thecountries of Africa and Asia (WHO, 1987). There is no reason to expect that theproportion of capital funding provided from external sources to water supply andsanitation systems will increase in the 1990's.

This paper on the basis of recent studies conducted in ECLAC(Lee and Jouravlev, 1992) and elsewhere, explores the practicability of theself-financing of water supply and sanitation services, including sewagetreatment, through the income derived from tariffs. If this is to be achievedthen it is important that the whole population pay for services: an issue ofsome importance given the unequal distribution of income in most cities of theregion.


By 1980, at the beginning of the International Drinking WaterSupply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD), the population of Latin America and theCaribbean was relatively well provided with drinking water supply and sanitationfacilities compared with the population of other regions of the developingworld. There had been two decades of special investment programmes in andgeneral development of drinking water supply and excreta disposal services inthe region. Relatively well organized water supply and sanitation institutionswere operating in most countries. In urban areas, high levels of service hadbeen achieved, particularly in drinking water supply where 71 % of thepopulation was served with house connections, but only 59% of the urbanpopulation was connected to sewerage systems or provided with other forms ofsanitary excreta disposal (PAHO, 1987). In rural areas less progress had beenmade although, in many pans of the region piped drinking water supply systemswere being installed in the larger rural settlements.

In the 1980's, the rate of improvement in the levels ofservice in the region slackened. Between 1980 and 1990, the proportion of theurban population with access to a protected drinking water supply rose only from83% to 86%, and the proportion with access to sewerage services and excretadisposal facilities only from 59% to 60%. In rural areas more was achieved, withaccess to water supply rising from 40% to 45%, and to sanitation services from11 % to 15%. In general, the goals of the IDWSSD were not met.

In most countries of the region, the financing of water supplyand sewerage systems is inadequate either to keep up with the needs of capitalexpansion for the growing urban population or for the maintenance of theexisting systems. It is true that the provision of drinking water and sewerageto the urban population has increased in nominal terms, but the service providedis often very irregular and of questionable quality (PAHO 1990). Not allcountries have even managed to maintain the nominal levels of service reached inthe past. In Buenos Aires, the proportion of the population served by the systemoperated by Obras Sanitarias de la Nación (OSN) has steadily declinedover the last fifty years. In 1947, 94% of the population lived in a dwellingwith a connection to the water supply system, in 1960 only 76% and by 1980 lessthan 60%. In the absence of the provision of drinking water by OSN, thepopulation of Buenos Aires has had to shift for itself. Sometimes this has ledto the creation of local water supply systems providing good service, but inmany cases the result has been recurrence to sources of dubious quality and anover reliance on individual excreta disposal systems with a high potential forcontaminating aquifers (Brunstein, 1988).

Income from the Provision of Water Supply andSewerage

Historically, the contribution to the funding of water supplyand sanitation projects derived from the income of operating companies hasusually been very small. Cost recovery policy has seldom been applied in watersupply and sanitation services, even in urban areas. It is not surprising tofind, therefore, that the bulk of capital funding for water supply andsanitation has come, in most countries, from general government revenues, eitherdirectly or in the form of government guarantees to loans from the World Bank orthe Inter-American Development Bank (ECLAC, 1990b). This source of capitalfunding has always fluctuated considerably with changes in political prioritiesand suffered from the effects of macroeconomic mismanagement. The severerecession between 1982 and 1983, the effects of which continue to be felt inmany countries of the region, resulted in efforts to reduce the size of thepublic deficit, and this has reduced the flow of funds from general governmentrevenues. At the same time, there has been a region-wide change in theperception of the role of the public sector in the economy which has led to ageneral reduction in the scope of government activities. In particular,increasing consideration is being given to the need for potentially revenuegenerating public services to become either self-financing or to be transferredto the private sector.

Until very recently, public water supply and sanitationcompanies have been incapable of compensating the reduction in governmentcontributions to capital financing by generating more funds from revenues. Theresulting shortfall in capital funding has severely affected not only expansionprogrammes, but also the operation and maintenance of existing systems (Israel,1992). The poor financial state of many utilities can, to a considerable extent,be directly attributed to the failure to adopt a tariff policy which wouldgenerate revenues sufficient to recover the total costs of the provision ofservice. In Mexico, for example, the total cost of providing drinking waterthrough house connections has been estimated at about 240 pesos/m3,whereas consumers are billed only some 40 pesos/m3 (Mexico,1989).

Some countries have managed to improve the financial situationof water supply and sanitation companies by following sound tariff policies. InChile, 56% of the funds invested in water supply and sanitation services by theServicio Nacional de Obras Sanitarias (SENDOS) over the period 1985-1989 weregenerated from tariff revenues and more recently a tariff policy has beenapplied to permit the services to meet all their investment needs from income(Chile, 1993). In Brazil, the sector has been partially self-financing since theadoption of the “Plan Nacional de Saneamiento” (PLANASA) in 1971(World Bank, 1989). Political difficulties led to a serious reduction in theself-sufficiency of the plan for a number of years, but in 1990 almost 80% ofthe capital needs of the sector were provided from the rotating funds,replenished from tariff revenues, as established under PLANASA (World Bank,1989).

It is not, however, the level of tariffs alone that determinesthe contribution of revenues to capital funding. Water pumped, but not accountedfor, reduces revenues and can also inflate the need for new investments. Theexperience of most water supply companies in the region indicates that highvalues of unaccounted for water are more often the result of deficiencies incommercial management, mainly problems in billing and the collection of paymentand inadequate policies for dealing with overdue accounts, than solely due tohigh rates of leakage in distribution systems (Yepes, 1990). For example, it hasbeen estimated in Mexico that of each 100 litres pumped in a typicaldistribution network, the user receives 60, is billed for 40, and finally onlypays for 30. In addition, tariff collection has been characterized by delays inbilling of some 6-9 months (Mexico, 1989).

Reducing commercial losses does not usually involve highcapital expenses, but it may require changes in management practice which aredifficult to introduce in a bureaucratic environment. Better commercialmanagement, however, can replace or postpone the need for new capitalinvestments and also reduce production, pumping and treatment costs. A reductionof unaccounted for water from 60% to 30% in a city growing at 3.5% per yearwould postpone investments in new production facilities by up to 16years.

One of the more serious consequences of inadequate tariffstructures, and an additional argument for adopting tariffs that fully reflectcosts, is that low tariffs for drinking water supply and sewerage do not, as arule, benefit the poor. It is usually the poor who, through the lack ofinvestment, do not have adequate access to public drinking water supply and, asa result, are forced to buy water from private water sellers at prices farexceeding those charged by water supply companies. It has been estimated thatthe cost of water bought from water sellers is 17 times higher in Lima, Peru,from 17 to 100 times higher in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and from 16 to 34 timeshigher in Tegucigalpa, Honduras than the price charged by the utility (WorldBank, 1988). In Quito, Ecuador, households without connection to the publicsupply paid US$ 4.31 for 4 cubic meters while the water supply company wouldprovide 50 cubic meters for that price (USAID, 1991).

Sources of Finance for Water Supply and SanitationInvestments

The funding structure for investments in water supply andsanitation projects has varied considerably among the countries of the region.In Bolivia, for example, external sources have traditionally accounted for anestimated 77% of total funds. The share of internal funds has been relativelyhigher in the rural areas, whereas external sources of financing accounted foran estimated 79% of investment funds in urban areas (Bolivia, 1988).

In Colombia, however, the main sources of funds forinvestments over the recent past have been generated internally. Externalborrowing only accounted for some 45% of funding, while 30% came from centralgovernment revenues, 15% from the revenues of operating companies, and theremaining 10% from other local sources. Companies in large cities relied mostlyon external loans which accounted for about 50% of their total investment whileoperating revenues accounted for a further 35%. In contrast, the financing ofdrinking water supply and sanitation in medium and small cities and in ruralareas depended more on contributions from the central government which accountedfor 45% of total funding while external loans provided 40% (Colombia,1988).

In Mexico, funds for drinking water supply and sanitationinvestments come largely from the Federal Government whose contributions areestimated to have accounted for almost 84% of the total. State governments havecontributed with an additional 4% to investments and only 10% has been providedfrom external sources. Federal investments were reduced after 1984, as a resultof the economic problems affecting the country. This reduction was accompaniedby the increasing role of internal and external borrowings in investmentfunding. The dependence on borrowed funds and subsidies is now being reducedthrough a combination of policies, including better management, the setting oftariffs in accordance with marginal costs, and other measures aimed at makingoperating companies financially independent. In addition, there is an effort toincrease sector financing through a better and more flexible combination offederal and other resources and through the promotion of private investment andcommunity participation (Mexico, 1989).

In Peru, the contribution of national sources to investmentfunding has been around 69% in recent years. Due to the decrease in the volumeof external funding, the share of financing provided from national sourcesincreased from 51% in 1985 to about 80% in 1987 (Mendoza and Sanchez, 1988).About 61% of the total investment was channelled to urban areas, including 30%to Lima, and only 10% to rural areas (Prialé, 1989). An analysis of the1986-1995 investment programme indicates that the financing of investments inurban areas comes mainly from operational revenues and community and usercontributions, and only to a lesser extent from general government revenues andexternal borrowings. The financing of investments in rural areas, in contrast,comes predominantly from external borrowings and general government revenues(Mendoza and Sanchez, 1988).

In Uruguay, national sources accounted for 63% of investmentfinancing for water supply and sanitation between 1985 and 1989 with 32% comingfrom operating revenues, slightly more than 15% from the central government and16% from miscellaneous sources including equipment suppliers and users. Theremaining 37% of funding was provided from IDB and World Bank loans.

There are a few private water supply and sanitation companiesin the region. In these companies, in contrast with most public water supply andsanitation companies, capital investments are financed almost entirely fromtariff revenues either directly or through borrowing.


Self-financing water supply and sanitation systems can bedefined as those in which tariff revenues meet the total costs of operating andmaintaining existing installations, the capital costs of expanding coverage toremove the existing deficit in service and to supply the increase in population,provide a reasonable rate of return on the capital invested and also cover theassociated costs of providing adequate treatment before discharge to theenvironment. The adoption of such criteria for water supply and sanitationsystem management would not mean that companies could not borrow money fromeither national banks, the multi-lateral development banks or from any otherlending institutions. It would mean, however, that the total costs of loanswould be paid from the revenues received from the sale of water and sewerageservices. It would not preclude subsidies either, but any subsidies would beclearly explicit transfers for reasons of social policy. The adoption of suchcriteria would lay the foundation for the companies to issue bonds or shares tothe general investing public, as is now being done in Chile (El Mercurio,1992).

The tariff charged to customers would depend on long termaverage and marginal costs, the rate of interest for loans, the amortizationperiod, the rate at which any existing deficit in the provision of service ismade up, the rate at which the population to be served grows and the costs ofoperating and maintaining the existing works, among other factors.

Can tariffs be set to meet all costs?

In order to explore the possibilities for financing watersupply and sanitation services from tariffs a recent study by ECLAC estimatedwhat tariffs would be necessary, on the basis of the known per capita unit costsof providing urban drinking water supply and urban sewerage by house connections(WHO, 1987). It was assumed that every customer would pay the full cost of bothmaintenance and operation. The amortized capital cost was calculated usingdifferent real rates of interest, 2% and 10%, and different repayment periods,25, 50 and 75 years. The calculations were made individually for each country interms of the lowest, highest and average charges which would be required (Table1).


(Cost in US$ per person served)


Drinking Water Supply











































Costa Rica







Dominican Republic














El Salvador




















































































Source: Lee and Jouravlev, 1992.

Note: Minimum - interest rate 2%, amortization period75 years, average - average of all rates and periods, maximum - interest rate10%, amortization period 25 years.

In making these calculations, it was assumed that newcustomers would be connected proportionately in each year to the end of thecentury and that, as the new customers receive a connection, they would begin topay on the same basis as the population connected at the beginning of theperiod. It was also assumed that everyone already connected would begin payingthe full capital cost of his connection in 1989, the base year for thecalculations. The tariffs calculated would only meet amortized capital costs ofexisting installations. The total costs of achieving final self-sufficiencywould be approximately 26% higher, so as to include other items than capitalinvestment. The total cost of services includes, as well as the replacement costof existing connections, a series of additional items. These include capitalinvestments providing services to new customers, the rehabilitation of existingsystems, many of which are in very bad condition, the costs of training staffand of institutional modernization and, finally, the cost of waste treatment. Itis assumed that the cost of water treatment is included in the per capitaestimates of the costs of providing drinking water supply.

The new capital investment which would be required forexpansion of systems to achieve complete coverage of the urban population variesconsiderably among countries depending on the level of existing service and theexpected growth in population. It is estimated that it would range to 48.2% ofthe total cost of providing service in Uruguay to 85% in the Dominican Republicand Haiti, the countries where the existing levels of provision of services arethe lowest and where population growth is expected to be high.

The expansion of systems in order to achieve universalcoverage by the year 2000 and maintaining and rehabilitating existing serviceswould mean the need to include in the tariff an average charge per person ofalmost US$ 2.00 a month in addition to the previously estimated amortizedcapital costs of the existing urban water supply and sanitation installations.The cost and, therefore, the amount of the additional charge, would, however,again vary considerably among the countries depending on the existing level ofservice (Table 2).


(Cost in US$ per person per month)


Monthly charge











Costa Rica


Dominican Republic




El Salvador






















Source: Lee and Jouravlev

Note: 1 - Includes the capital cost ofdrinking water supply and sewerage services through house connections, majorrehabilitation costs of existing systems, expansion of waste water treatment andthe costs of training and institutional modernization.


If tariff based financing of water supply and sewerage systemsis to become a reality, the tariffs established must be paid regularly by allusers. This does not mean that, necessarily, all users must pay the same tariff.Tariff discrimination is both acceptable and necessary for the effectiveprovision of such significant social services. Services should not, however, beprovided free to even the poorest customers.

In setting the tariffs, it is unrealistic not to take intoaccount the existence of considerable inequalities of income in most countriesand the large proportion of the population living in poverty, estimated to havebeen more than 195 millions in 1990 of whom 115 millions lived in urban areas(ECLAC, 1993). The tariffs must be reasonable, therefore, in relation to incomesas well as to the costs of installation, operation and maintenance ofservices.

It is generally accepted that the cost of water and sewerageservices should not, for the poorest sections of the population exceed more thana small proportion, 1 or 2 percent, of their incomes. For example, in the OECDcountries the cost of water and sewerage services are estimated to be equal to 1percent of the average household disposable income (OECD, 1987). In Chile,however, subsidies are paid when charges exceed 5 % of family income. It is noteasy to establish the incomes of the poor in most Latin American societies wheremany of the poor receive much of their income in kind and their cash income maybe derived from a variety of sources rather than from a single wage paid by oneemployer.

It is necessary, therefore, to use other indicators to obtainan idea of the possible incidence of the water and sewerage tariff on income.Information is available on the official minimum wages for a number ofcountries. The official minimum wage in the late 1980's ranged from US$ 50 toUS$ 110 for those countries for which information is available, although in mostcases additional bonuses are also paid. The minimum wage represents gross incomenot net income, it does not include the payment of social security contributionsor any other deductions. The impact of such deductions is very variable,however, not just between countries, but from employer to employer depending onthe nature of the employment contract. It is not possible, therefore, to useother than these gross amounts for comparisons. Additionally, the proportion ofthe population receiving the minimum wage is very variable. In some countries,such as Uruguay, the typical wage is considerably higher while in others it islower.

From the estimations of the cost of providing water supply andsewerage services, it is possible to estimate the proportion of both the monthlyminimum income and of the average manufacturing wage that these costs represent(Table 3). It is only in the minimum estimates that the costs of providing bothwater supply and sewerage through house connections fall generally within the1-2% range of the minimum wage. In some of the poorer countries, the estimatedcost of water supply and sanitation tariffs, even for the minimum cost case, ismore than 2% of the average manufacturing wage. The costs of providing watersupply and sewerage are the lowest proportion of the minimum wage in Uruguay,1.75 percent for the minimum cost case and 3.91 percent for the maximum costcase. As a proportion of the average manufacturing wage, the costs are lowest inVenezuela, Chile and Colombia. The costs are the highest proportion of theminimum wage in Ecuador and Colombia.

Two major qualifying comments can be made to the results ofthe analysis that have been presented here:

· It is not possibleto know what the real cost of replacing existing installations might be. Theestimated cost for a new connection is probably, however, an overestimate of thereal cost of replacing an existing installation... The monthly charge foramortizing this investment could be expected to be lower than the estimatedcharges used in the analysis.

· The distribution of waterconsumption is very skewed. The poor tend to consume very much less than theaverage consumption in any urban system.



Average manufacturing wage

Minimum wage

Minimum cost

Average cost

Maximum cost

Minimum cost

Average cost

Maximum cost




































Costa Rica







Dominican Republic














El Salvador
























































Source: Lee and Jouravlev.

Note: 1 - Includes the capital cost ofdrinking water supply and sewerage services through house connections, majorrehabilitation costs of existing systems, expansion of waste water treatment andthe costs of training and institutional modernization.

Poorer households consume less water for a variety of reasons,mainly, however, because in all households the use of water for drinking andcooking is only a small proportion of the total demand (Gibbons, 1986). In arecent study of the demand for water in Mexico, the authors present histogramsof water consumption in a number of Mexican cities (Saavedra et al, 1991). Thehistograms all show similar distributions of water demand with the 30 percent ofhouseholds with the highest incomes consuming half the total. The concentrationof consumption is even greater in some of the cities included in the study, forexample in the city of Victoria, Tamaulipas, 2% of residential users consume 40%of the water. This was the most extreme case in the sample, but similarconcentrations of water consumption were observed in Juárez, Chihuahuaand La Paz, Baja California Sur. In general, in all cities the skew andconcentration in the distribution of water consumption was remarkably similar(Figure 1).

Data on the consumption of water for Santiago, Chile also showa relationship between income and consumption, although the information is lessprecise. The population of metropolitan Santiago has universal access todrinking water through house connections. Within the metropolitan area, however,there are considerable differences in apparent per capita water consumption bymunicipality. In the municipalities with high income households consumption isbetween 500 and 600 litres per capita a day. In municipalities where averagehousehold incomes are lower the per capita consumption is between 100 and 200litres (Icaza and Rodriguez, 1988).

The Mexican study and the Santiago data confirm the pattern ofresidential water consumption found in other earlier studies in quite disparatesocial and economic situations. The Johns Hopkins University ResidentialWater Use Project showed, for the United States, a clear relationshipbetween the level of household income and the demand for water (Howe andLinaweaver, 1967). The influence of income on the residential demand for water,it was concluded, is expressed through the greater use of water usingappliances, more bathrooms per household and for lawn sprinkling. A similarrelationship between residential water demand and the level of household incomewas observed in New Delhi, India (Lee, 1969).

Figure 1. Distribution of WaterConsumption in Mexican Cities

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (25)

Source: Saavedra et al
The consequences for tariff policy of this skewed pattern ofresidential water demand lie in the possibilities it raises for subsidies topoor households. Moreover, it raises the possibility of applying discriminatorytariffs to increase economic efficiency in the provision water supply andsewerage services; that is, such a policy would raise the social benefits bymore than it would decrease private benefits.

An example of the possibilities is provided by the tariffpolicies applied in Chile. The basis of the policy is that the water supply andsanitation companies should be self-financing and capable of attracting privateinvestors and that all consumers should pay for water. In its present form thepolicy has only been in force since 1990, but the impact on the finances of thewater supply and sanitation utilities has been spectacular. In 1992, the 13publicly owned companies achieved an overall profit of US$ 10,000,000 aftermeeting the costs of debt service. In the same year, the companies invested overUS$ 150,000,000 (Table 4).


(Millions of pesos of 1992)





Operating Profit/Loss

Total Profit/Loss


Operating Profit/Loss

Total Profit/Loss



































































































Source: CORFO.
The other aspect of the tariff policy is the subsidy of lowincome households for a consumption of up to 15 m3 a month. Thissubsidy of 75% of the charge is paid through the municipalities to watercompanies for all households where the cost 15 m3 a month exceeds 5%of household income. The subsidy is to be modified to raise the limit ofconsumption to 20 m3 a month and increase the subsidy to a maximum of80%. In 1992 on average, 346,881 household received subsidies equivalent to 14%of the total number of connections at a cost of slightly more than US$6,000,000. It is anticipated that with the new regulations, the number ofhouseholds receiving subsidies will increase to over 700,000 and the cost to US$11,000,000.


Great efforts have been made, since the adoption in 1961 ofthe Punte del Este charter, to improve the provision of water supply andsewerage to the urban population of Latin America and the Caribbean. Theseefforts, however, have consistently fallen short of whatever goals wereestablished (ECLAC, 1990a). One of the major restraints on achievement has beenthe weak financial situation of publicly owned water supply and sanitationcompanies. The lack of financial resources has been compounded by generally poormanagement. The consequences of these two factors have led in many cities to afailure to maintain levels of service in keeping with the growth in population,and even, in some cases, to a decline in the provision of service. Poormanagement and limited operating incomes have been a considerable restraint evenfor those systems that have shown the best performance. There is, therefore,ample reason to look for new approaches to the provision of water supply andsanitation in urban areas.

Moving towards self-financing of water supply and sewerageservices is a major challenge for the countries of Latin America. The removal ofthe financial restraint is possible, even in the poorest countries of theregion, through the establishment of tariff systems which would generatesufficient revenues to cover the total cost of providing house connections forboth water supply and sewerage to the whole population. The application of suchtariff structures would not be easy, however, and would require a considerablechange in management attitudes and practices in the water supply and sanitationsector: a change which may not be possible without drastic institutionalchange.

The need for institutional innovation is the most potentargument for the privatization of water supply and sewerage services, althoughother types of institutional change may be as effective. Privatization does nothave to take the form of the sale of whole systems to private entrepreneurs,although in many cases this may be the preferred alternative (Coing and Montano,1989). The concession of the partial or total provision of services, as in Chileand Mexico, may be just as potent an innovating force and would equally demandthat tariffs cover the whole costs of providing service, including anappropriate return on capital.

What must be achieved, however, is not privatization perse, but that the urban water supply and sanitation services of the regionbecome self-financing public utilities whoever owns them. Unless systems areself-financing, no matter what other reforms are made, investment and theprovision of service will remain in deficit and the quality of service willremain deficient. The achievement of financial self-sufficiency is the greatchallenge not only for water supply and sanitation policy in Latin America andthe Caribbean during this, the last decade of the Twentieth Century, but forwater management policy as a whole. Unless water supply and sanitation companiescan achieve financial independence then the water bodies in the vicinity of thecities of Latin America and the Caribbean will undeniably continue to bepolluted; a situation which is bound to endanger any effort to improve thequality of the environment in general in the countries of the region.


Bolivia. 1988. Ministerio de Asuntos Urbanos, DirecciónNacional de Infraestructura Urbana, Corporación de Agua Potable yAlcantarillado, Dirección de Saneamiento Ambiental del Ministerio dePrevisión Social y Salud Publica, Perfil de movilización derecursos, Reunión Consultiva del Decenio Del 29 de agosto al 1 deseptiembre, La Paz.

(Video) 3rd OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for the SDGs - Day 1

Brunstein, F. 1988. Crisis y Servicios Públicos,Cuadernos de CEUR N°23, Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales (CEUR),Buenos Aires.

Camarena Larriva, A. 1989. Apreciación de lasituación al final de Decenio Internacional de Abastecimiento de Agua ySaneamiento en México y perspectivas para el futuro, Reunión delGrupo de Trabajo de Gerentes de Servicios de Abastecimiento de Agua ySaneamiento en la América Latina, Revisión de los Progresos delDecenio Internacional del Abastecimiento de Agua y del Saneamiento, PAHO, WorldBank, IDB, Washington, D.C., May 10-12.

Chile, Superintendencia de Servicios Sanitarios. 1993. MemoriaAnual, 1992, Santiago.

Coing, H. and I. Montano. 1989. Privatisation, une alternativeà propos de l'eau? Brésil et Argentine, Cahiers desAmériques Latines, No: 8.

Colombia, Departamento Nacional de Planeación. 1988. Elsector de agua potable y saneamiento en Colombia, Regional Seminar on WaterSupply and Sanitation for Low-Income Groups in Rural and Peri-urban Communities,Recife, Brazil, 28 September-6 October, Document No. 06.

ECLAC. 1992. (United Nations, Economic Commission for LatinAmerica and the Caribbean), Water Management in Metropolitan Areas of LatinAmerica, LC/R.1156, Santiago.

ECLAC. 1990a. (United Nations, Economic Commission for LatinAmerica and the Caribbean), Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean since Punta del Este, LC/G.1591 (SES.23/17),Santiago.

ECLAC. 1990b. (United Nations, Economic Commission for LatinAmerica and the Caribbean) Latin America and the Caribbean: Water-relatedInvestments in the Eighties, LC/R.904, Santiago.

ECLAC. 1993. (United Nations, Economic Commission for LatinAmerica and the Caribbean) Latin American Poverty Profiles for the early 1990s,LC/G.1766 (Conf. 82/8), Santiago.

El Mercurio. 1992. Privados Accederán hasta el 10% DeEmpresas de Obras Sanitarias, 6 August, Santiago.

Gibbons, D.C. 1986. The Economic Value of Water, Resources forthe Future, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.

Howe, C. W. and F. P. Linaweaver, Jr. 1967. The Impact ofPrice on Residential Water demand and Its Relationship to System Design andPrice Structure, Water Resources Research, Vol. 3, No: 1.

Icaza, A. M. and A. Rodriguez. 1988. Informe Estudio de Caso:Agua Potable, Santiago de Chile, SUR, September.

Israel, A. 1992. Issues for Infrastructure Management in the1990s, World Bank Discussion Papers, Washington.

Lee, T. R. 1969. Residential Water Demand and EconomicDevelopment, University of Toronto, Department of Geography ResearchPublications, No: 2, Toronto.

Lee, T. R. and A. Jouralev, 1992. Self-financing water supplyand sanitation services, CEPAL Review, No. 48.

León Mendoza, S. and P. Aguero Sánchez. 1988.Sistema de agua y saneamiento: Perú, Regional Seminar on Water Supply andSanitation for Low-Income Groups in Rural and Peri-urban Communities, Recife,Brazil, 28 September 6 October, Document No. 17.

Mexico, Comisión Nacional del Agua. 1989. El ProgramaNacional de Aprovechamiento del Agua, 1989-1994, unpublished draft.

OECD. 1987. (Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment) Pricing of Water Services, Paris.

PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and WHO (World HealthOrganization). 1987. Environmental Health Programme, International DrinkingWater Supply and Sanitation Decade, Regional Progress Report, EnvironmentalSeries No. 6, Washington.

PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and WHO (World HealthOrganization). 1990. Environmental factors Affecting Health Conditions in theAmericas, Washington. '

Prialé J. A. 1989. Revisión de los progresos delDecenio Internacional del Abastecimiento de Agua y del Saneamiento 1981-1990 enPerú, Reunión del Grupo de Trabajo de Gerentes de Servicios deAbastecimiento de Agua y Saneamiento en la América Latina,Revisión de los Progresos del Decenio Internacional del Abastecimiento deAgua y del Saneamiento, PAHO, World Bank, IDB, Washington, May 10-12.

Rego Monteiro, J. R. 1989. Fortalecimiento institucional: laexperiencia de PLANASA, Brasil, paper presented to the Seminar on Innovation andDevelopment in Water Supply Companies, San Jose, Costa Rica, December.

Saavedra, J. C., G. Luco and M. G. Macay. 1991 Análisisde histogramas de consumo de agua potable en México, IngenieríaHidráulica en México, Volume VI, N°1.

Uruguay, Administración de las Obras Sanitarias delEstado. 1990. Situación actual y resumen de gestión Abril 1985 -Diciembre 1989 Versión corregida.

USAID. 1991. (United States, Agency for InternationalDevelopment). The Affordability of Urban Water and Sewer Service Extension inEcuador, WASH Field Report N° 316.

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World Bank (1988), World Development Report,Washington.

World Bank (1989) Seminar on Innovation and Development inWater Supply Companies, San Jose, Costa Rica, December.

Yepes, Guillermo, “Management and Operational Practicesof Municipal and Regional Water and Sewerage Companies in Latin America and theCaribbean” Infrastructure and Urban Development Papers, Report INU 61, TheWorld Bank, Washington, 1990, p. 12

Mechanisms for Financing theDevelopment of Public Work Infrastructure

José A. Martínez1

1 Regional Economist with the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers, Antilles Office. Expressions and opinions herein presentedare the sole responsibility of the author, and not necessarily represent thoseof the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The purpose of this paper is to describe with reference toPuerto Rico various economic principles that can be used to determine who shouldpay for public work services and several financing mechanisms to implement thoseprinciples.


An important measure of a nation's well-being is the qualityand extent of services provided by its public works. Water supply and sanitationfacilities help determine the quality of public health. Highway andtransportation facilities influence to a great extent spatialdevelopment.

Economic growth and development depend on the advantages alocation offers; firms look for areas offering greater opportunities for profit.In this context, public works investments can be considered as productionfactors such as capital and labor for private firms; but in this case, theseproduction inputs are paid indirectly through taxes or directly through userfees. Thus, public capital can increase a firm's productivity either bycomplementing private investment, like in the case of transportation, or bydirectly contributing to production, like in the case of power orwater.

Trends in infrastructure capital accumulation and level ofspending indicate that public works investment has declined relative to totalgovernment spending, to the value of the total annual production of goods andservices, and even in respect to private investment. These trends point towardsa major gap between demand and supply that is seriously impacting the volume andquality of services being provided.

In order to provide level of service necessary to removedeficits and meet future demand, there must be a commitment to increase capacityof public works. Capacity can increase by improving maintenance of existingstock, more efficient use of existing facilities, implementing low-costalternative service delivery systems, and finally through more investment. Anystrategy towards this goal should include meeting public works financing needsby increasing the share of costs borne by those who benefit.


In private markets, the sale of goods and services financestheir production. Consumer demand, together with available technology,determines the firm's scale of operation and production levels. Users couldfinance a greater proportion of many public works facilities in such areas astransportation, water supply, wastewater treatment, electric power, and solidwaste systems. Since these facilities serve consumers that can be identified,how much they use can be measured and priced; those who do not pay can berefused services or if in need their use can be subsidized.

Charging beneficiaries directly for the cost of services hasadvantages. One such advantage is that all beneficiaries can be made to paytheir fair share. This allocation of charges can help avoid the overbuildingthat may come with the perception that anything “public” is free orshould be underpriced.

Financing mechanisms that reflect cost can help solve a majorfinancing problem deriving from the nature of public works facilities.Long-lived facilities with slow deterioration, which is the case of many ofthese facilities, require large, intermittent building or replacementexpenditures. Resources to accomplish these expenditures must be available in atimely manner.

Use of public works facilities, on the other hand, isgenerally continuous. For example, water is used daily, trips to work areregular, and goods are shipped on a predictable basis. If financing is linked touse, revenue can become steadier and more predictable, encouraging bettermaintenance, rehabilitation, and replacement.

The beneficiary finance principle has some limitations. Ifrevenues are not set at a level needed to finance the service or facility, theywill not send the correct resource-allocation signals. Also, if there arebeneficiaries who cannot afford to cover the full cost of the service, generalfund subsidies may be required.


Earmarked taxes, user fees, and the creation of specialdistricts or authorities are three use-based financing techniques. Each is adifferent way to relate payments with benefits and to segregate these paymentsfrom other public funds, a process facilitated by trust funds. Each techniquehas certain advantages and limitations as a financing tool.

Earmarked Taxes

Earmarked taxes are used for specific public spending programsor projects. When such taxes, are tied to the benefits provided, the taxfunctions as a user fee. For example, gasoline taxes and motor vehicle licensesare generally seen as indirect fees for highway use.

Earmarking has many advantages for public works financing. Itcan be a way to introduce new spending programs or taxes in spite of fiscalausterity. Legislatures are often more likely to approve a new tax if they cansee that a clear benefit from it will derive from its application.

Though in Puerto Rico the highway program is relatively large,with total spending far in excess of the earmarked amounts, these funds have asignificant effect on the level of spending for that program for they are usedto issue debt.

The narrower a designated revenue is, the greater the spendingeffect on the program involved. For example, earmarking local landfill revenueswill have a greater impact on that facility's operation than a statewide taxdedicated to a broad range of environmental improvements.

Earmarking does not always lead to increased spending if thelegislature must appropriate earmarked funds. For example, The U.S. Congress hasfor budget purposes deferred appropriations from earmarked federalinfrastructure trust funds. In other places earmarked funds not appropriated forspecified projects or programs are placed hi the general fund.

Whether or not they actually increase spending, earmarkingprovisions can encourage improved program planning and management. A consistentand reliable revenue stream can help assure that funds are available when publicworks needs arise. This stability can compensate for the prevalence ofshort-term budgeting at all levels of government. Generally, the politicalsystem encourage a focus of short-term needs at the expense of long termplanning. Earmarking provides some certainty in financing so that the agenciesin charge of delivering the service can take a long term perspective.

However, earmarking also has some limitations. If earmarkingprovisions are very pervasive, they may result in serious fiscal managementproblems for the state. Also, earmarked taxes often produce less than the amountof revenue necessary for optimal designated function. Therefore, in some casesearmarking may not have a clear advantage over the ordinary appropriations as apublic works support tool. When earmarking does not limit budgeting decisions,it is relative ineffective for it results in substituting dedicated funds forother funds that would have been expanded at any event.

Puerto Rico does not use extensively earmarked taxes forfinancing public works facilities or services. Some public corporations,however, received considerable amount of resources appropriated from the generalfund. One of the largest earmarked tax is on gasoline. These funds go to theP.R. Highway Authority.

Availability of these funds has allowed the Highway Authorityto undertake a vigorous and extensive highway construction program, subsidizingpart of the P.R. Department of Transportation and Public Works program as wellas part of San Juan's mass transit system. The P.R. Highway Authority is alsoplanning construction for the late part of this decade of a light rail train forthe San Juan Metropolitan Area.

User Fees

User fees are payments by households, firms, or otherconsumers to a governmental body or other public works provider for services.Public works user fees generally do not cover the full costs of providingservices.

The way and level a user fee is established affects decisionsabout the use and expansion of capacity. A poorly designed user fee may providea constant flow of revenue, but will not encourage the efficient use ofavailable public works services. Services prices that are set to cover the costof providing services can be used to allocate costs fairly and efficiently amongdifferent users and classes of users.

Two mechanisms are common in setting user fees. Average-costpricing sets fees by taking the estimated budget of the facility and/or totalservice, less expected subsidies, and dividing by units of output or by users. Asecond method adjusts for operating deficits through rate increases, otherinternal revenue sources, or subsidies. Two rarely used methods which can resultin efficient use and expansion decisions are pricing based on the marginal costof providing an additional unit of service and pricing based on the cost ofproviding services during peak load periods.

Most of the public work corporations in Puerto Rico basedtheir pricing or rates structure on the average cost method. The rates are setto cover most of the operating and maintenance costs and to generate funds forcapital improvements. However, the rates have to be revised periodically becausethey do not adjust automatically for all cost increases, particularly wageincreases resulting from collective bargaining with the labor unions. Raterevision for public services is one of the most difficult political decision onthe island. Some corporations run operational deficits year after year beforebeing allowed to revise their rates. In some cases financing corporations havebeen established to channelize funds from other sources to trouble publiccorporations. Efforts at maximizing operating agency income by timely collectionof debts, elimination of illegal or unrecorded corrections, accurate consumptionmetering, cost control and productivity increase have not had muchsuccess.

In several public services areas expanded user fees could helpmanage facilities use and make certain facilities self-supporting. Airport userfees could help manage traffic and expand the capacity use of existingfacilities to include those of competing airports. Some airports use higherpeak-hour fees to curb general aviation use of busy airports or have then goingto other airports.

Full cost pricing of water supply and wastewater treatmentfacilities could pay for a larger proportion of these services. To encouragefull-cost pricing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's loans from therevolving fund created under the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act in theU.S. could require that sewer rates cover operating expenses, debt retirement,and a capital reserve fund for future rehabilitation of facilities.

User fees can provide useful signals about capacity needs.When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implemented cost-sharing in 1986, severalprojects were redesigned at lower initial costs.

In some cases, users should probably be charged less than thefull cost of services. For example, mass transit benefits both users andmotorists who use less congested roads. To account for this it would beappropriate to supplement user fees with a general tax source, such as aregional sales tax or an earmarked gasoline tax so that indirect beneficiariesand direct users can help pay the costs. The share of revenue provided fromgeneral taxes should reflect the share of benefits accruing to indirectbeneficiaries.

Financing public works to recover full costs through user feesalso has potential disadvantages and socially undesirable outcomes. The poor andthose living in hard-to-serve areas might find public works servicesunaffordable if the services are priced at full cost. Society has an interest inmaking sure that the environment is protected and that water and sanitationfacilities are universally available, even if a particular facility cannot besupported solely by its users. Selective general-funds subsidies can help makeservices affordable when necessary. For example, in Puerto Rico expansion ofwater supply in rural areas is subsidized from the general fund, and until 1992poor families consuming less than 400 Kv. per hour per month were alsosubsidized from the general fund.

A special application of the user-fee concept has emerged inpublic works financing in growing areas. Local requirements governing newdevelopment have long included the provision of on site infrastructure such as apower, telephone, sewer, and water connections. In the last decade, manylocalities have also begun to require developers to finance offsiteinfrastructure expansion or construction. Such requirements are implementedthrough development fees and exactions. Development fees are established ornegotiated charges imposed on developers to finance infrastructure, whileexactions are facilities built by developers and dedicated to the city or publiccorporation providing service.

Development fees and exactions are controversial publicfinance tools. Those opposing their use argue that providing community-wideinfrastructure is a local government responsibility for which everyone shouldpay, and that newcomers to an area should not bear the major cost of correctingproblems created before their arrival. They also claim that these fees increasehousing costs considerably.

On the other hand, those calling for their implementationargue that these fees are needed to avoid an inequitable distribution of theinfrastructure burden created by new development. New development, they argue,generally leads to higher taxes and utility bills when needed infrastructure isfinanced from traditional revenue sources, even though new homeowners pay taxesand utility bills just like everyone else.

While these fees raise difficult administrative, legal,political, and technical problems, their size suggests that they are on thelocal-finance scene to stay. The P.R. Aqueducts and Sewers Authority has beenimplementing, though in a limited scale, some of these financing mechanisms,while at the P.R. Electric Power Authority they have been establishing practicesfor servicing industrial parks and other private facilities.

Despite their size, these fees, however, are not a solutionfor localities struggling to pay for public works for generally they do notcover most of the costs of providing public works for new development.

Special Districts and Authorities

Special districts are limited-purpose governmental units withthe power to levy taxes, user charges, and other fees. Public authoritiesperform similar functions but are not considered units of government for thepurposes of debt liability or state constitutional restrictions. Both offer away to shift infrastructure financing away from all taxpayers to those directlyserved.

Special districts for public works allow localities to financepublic facilities that they might not be able to finance through general-purposegovernments.

Special districts also offer a way for governments tocooperate in dealing with public works issues that affect more than onegovernment. Special districts that transcend jurisdictional boundaries can helpensure that a facility is constructed and operated on an optimalscale.

Some special districts are better able than general-purposegovernments to maintain existing facilities in good repair, but this advantageis not universal. The maintenance and rehabilitation record of districts andauthorities ranges from excellent to poor, as it does for cities and othergovernments. In cities with budget problems and deferred public worksmaintenance, facilities operated by districts and authorities also suffer fromdisinvestment. This suggests that an area's economic vitality has at least asmuch effect on its public works' condition as the area's governmentalstructures.

Districts and authorities that have not deferred maintenanceare those with strong and independent sources of income that are protected fromcuts In times of tight budgets. Profitable facilities tend to be bettermaintained than those that produce deficits, such as mass transit systems.Earmarked taxes associated with bond issues can protect operating budgets, whiledependence on operating subsidies from general purpose governments makes themmove vulnerable.

In summary, special districts and authorities for public worksprovision can offer ways to transcend the fiscal, bureaucratic and geographiclimitations of general-purpose governments. Since their revenue streams aresegregated from competing priorities, districts theoretically could make betterscale, pricing, and maintenance decisions.

In practice, however, the fact that most districts are notself-supporting means that they are not insulated from the funding problems ofgeneral-purpose governments. Inadequate techniques for setting prices andpolitical limitations on the scale of operations further limit the advantages ofdistricts and authorities. Inadequate accountability and coordination withgeneral-purpose governments can also limit the effectiveness of specialdistricts. Where these districts are used, care should be taken to assure thatthey are accountable to voters or to the general-purpose governments that createthe districts.

Puerto Rico began to develop its infrastructure in acentralized way since the early 1940's. To accomplish it, public authority orcorporations were created. The first public corporations were part of politicaland social movements which main purpose was to eliminate the extreme povertycharacteristic of most of the island at that time.

The public corporations were to develop their own resources,hired the best managerial and technical people, be separated from the politicaldecision making and flexible and innovative in their organization.

The experience with the first corporations was very good.Therefore, new corporations were established to take on other public servicesand even some poorly managed private services.

In fiscal year 1992 half of the government's budget, whichamounted to about $6,500 million, was with the public corporations which employover 60,000 persons. The 1993 operational budget only for those publiccorporations responsible for public works facilities was almost $2,500 million,while their budget for capital improvements amounted to another $1,400 million.The value of their physical assets was estimated at almost $10,000 million andthey are employing approximately 30,500 persons.

Each public corporation has a board of directors named by theGovernor. In the case of the P.R. Aqueducts and Sewers Authority and P.R.Electric Power Authority, two of the Board members are elected by theirrespective customers. These boards meet periodically. They name in coordinationwith the Governor the executive director, establish and monitor thecorporation's vision, goals, and objectives, its annual budget and capitalinvestment program. The direction and control of the corporation is theresponsibility of the executive director.

The coordination and integration of the programs and projectsof each corporation is accomplished by the Puerto Rico Planning Board, theOffice of Management and Budget, and the Government Development Bank, which isthe fiscal agent for the corporations.

The Planning Board is responsible for preparing andrecommending to the Governor a Plan of Integral Development and the Four YearsInvestment Program. This latter documents consists of:

- Delineation of socioeconomic goals andobjectives to pursue for the four year period and activities to be undertaken bythe various corporations to accomplish those goals and objectives.

- Delineation of urban and rural development patterns andgoals and objectives for protecting and enhancing the environment.

- Estimates of resources for the program and potential sourcesof funding.

The central government annual operating budget and capitalimprovement program prepared by the Office of Management and Budget must be inconsonance with the plan of Integral Development and the Four Years InvestmentProgram of the Planning Board.


In recent years, many governments have involved private firmsin the financing, design, construction, and operation of public facilities andservices. These arrangements bring tax benefits to the private firms and costreductions to the governments.

Arrangements with the private sector sometimes offer potentialadvantages.

- Maintenance. State and local government fiscalpressures have contributed to undermaintenance. Private firms have an incentiveto maintain facilities, since maintenance costs are operating expenses that aretax-deductible.

- Setting priorities. Governments must weigh public worksagainst other spending priorities. As a result, capital improvements andmaintenance are often postponed in favor of operating expenses. Private firms,in contrast, have fewer competing responsibilities. This should encourage moreefficient construction, maintenance, and operating decisions.

- Performance sanctions. Private firms can lose contracts orprofitability for inadequate performance. Equivalent sanctions general do notexist for public agencies.

During the last few years practically every public corporationin Puerto Rico has taken initiatives towards privatizing some of their services.The P.R. Highway Authority established a precedent for being the first entityunder the U.S. jurisdiction to have a private firm design, build, and operate a$100 million plus toll highway project. The project connects the airport withthe central business district. The P.R. Ports Authority privatized the operationand maintenance of several pier facilities in the San Juan Harbor. The P.R.Aqueducts and Sewers Authority is entering into agreements with some privatefirms to operate and manage some of its regional wastewater treatment plants.The P.R. Electric Power Authority is also considering various proposals fromprivate firms for energy regeneration projects based on gas and coal. Theprevious administration engaged for about two years in talks with internationalcompanies to sell its Telephone Company in order to establish two permanentfunds, one for education and another for infrastructure development.Unfortunately, no agreement was reached except for the sale of a subsidiary thatmanages long distance calls.


Infrastructure finance policy debates revolve around threequestions:

- How much should we spend?
- Who should pay?
- How should spending be financed?
The answers to these questions are interdependent. How much tospend depends on who will pay and how the charges will be collected. Thefinancing method chosen, in turn, will determine whether the revenues areadequate and reliable.

Public works services should be priced so that direct users,indirect beneficiaries, and producers of wastes pay the costs of services. Ifprices reflect costs, the public's use of a facility and its willingness to payfor cervices will indicate the appropriate scale and distribution of publicworks. Using such an approach will be easier with better information about therelationship between use patterns and charges. More sophisticated pricingtechniques can then be developed. Nevertheless, general-fund subsidies willstill be necessary to promote society's interest in the quality of services andto retain fair and affordable distribution of services.

The various dedicated financing techniques mentioned above canimprove public works management. Public works lend themselves particularly wellto dedicated financing techniques because of their long lives, need forcontinued maintenance, and the unevenness of their replacement andrehabilitation expenditures. In addition, a clear benefit-cost connection oftenpromotes easier acceptance of new spending programs by voters and legislatures.Making this connection clear could become particularly important for financingnew needs such as solid waste disposal.

However, these techniques are not foolproof. At all levels,the political process responds to changing public priorities regardless ofinstitutional rigidities and constraints. Legislatures can fail to appropriatealready collected trust-fund balances; earmarked revenues can be offset byreduced general-fund spending' and special districts or authorities can fail tocarry out their mission because of their financial dependence on general-purposegovernments.

Designing Appropriate FinancialArrangements to Ensure the Proper Operation and Maintenance of Water SupplyFacilities

Enrique Moncada1 and Vinio Floris²

1 Universidad Nacional Agraria, LaMolina, Lima, Perú
² South Florida Water Management District, West PalmBeach, Florida, USA
1. Introduction

The operation and maintenance of water supply facilities maybe considered as the cornerstone of the planning, design and implementation ofwater resources infrastructure. However, while the developed countries haveaddressed their goals to an appropriate operation and maintenance of suchsystems, the developing countries have concentrated their efforts on thebuilding of water resources systems programs.

In the case of developed nations, the operation andmaintenance of water resources systems is successful because it is conceived ina global way. Operating rules are defined at the planning stage and are“tuned up” when infrastructure is designed and again when it is built.The same situation occurs with maintenance, which represents a key factor inachieving efficient operation of a water supply system.

The situation in the developing countries not only hasgenerated a discontinuity in the water resource planning and management process,but also has provoked high social and economic cost. The break in theseprocesses, and the complications that arise inherently, at times prove to bemore expensive than the original problem.

Latin America, namely Perú, has not been the exceptionto the lack of those aforementioned programs. Issues like the financialdifficulties, the lack of integrated responsibilities of the various sectors,institutional problems either in the government sector or in the water userssector have contributed to worsening the crisis.

The amazing reduction of life expectancy for hydraulicstructures such as reservoirs, hydroelectric plants, drainage and irrigationsystems, and urban water supply systems, define the necessity for a new approachin operation and maintenance practices. Financial alternatives to the planningprocess which would allow Latin America to fulfill the requirements of anoperation and maintenance program should be analyzed, evaluated, andimplemented.

2. Description of the Problem

2.1 Investment in Hydraulic Infrastructure

In general, along the Latin American Region, operational andmaintenance planning is almost non-existent. The belief is that a job ispractically finished when the infrastructure is completed and operation andmaintenance (O&M) is approached as a secondary duty.

The trend in the last 25 years has been to have an activegovernment's participation in the planning and management of water resourcessystems. It is quite common to find considerable political support for buildinginfrastructure rather than for O&M. Also, the utilities companies have notbeen prepared to afford an adequate operation and maintenance of water supplyfacilities. Thus, in most of the cases O&M decisions have followed politicalinitiatives, paying little attention to technical decisions.

For instance, in the case of Perú, Table 1 shows thepercentage of hydraulic infrastructure investment in irrigation projects from1975 to 1986. The highest percentages of investment were made from 1975 to 1981,which coincides with the 1969-1980 military government. The lowest investmentpercentage was 42% in 1985, which corresponds to the ending of a civilpresidential period.

Table 1: Percentage of Hydraulic Infrastructure Investmentin Irrigation Projects. Government of Perú (1975-1986)


% of Total Investment

























Source: Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo, INADE(Perú)
Table 2 shows the invested amount - through 1992 - byprojects. The total cost of the main projects is an estimated $9.5 billiondollars, in which $2.6 billion have already been invested (approximately 27% ofthe total). Of the nine water resources projects considered, six of them arelocated in the north coast. The ones that are closer to completion areChira-Piura and Jequetepeque in the north, and Majes in the south.

Table 2: Investments in the Main Water Resources Projectsfor the Government of Perú.



Total Cost

Invested 12/92

Current Situation

1. Puyango-Tumbes

North Coast




2. Chira-Piura

North Coast




3. Olmos-Tinajones

North Coast




4. Jequetepeque

North Coast




5. Chavimochic

North Coast




6. Chinecas

North Coast




7. Majes

South Coast




8. Pasto Grande

South Coast




9. Tacna

South Coast







Source: INADE (Perú)
2.2 Financial Arrangements in Operation and Maintenance ofWater Supply facilities

2.2.1 Water Price

The price of water represents a way of how the operation,maintenance and amortization of the infrastructure may be financed. Developedcountries consider this approach in the planning stage and implement it in theoperational stage of a such a project. Hence, institutional arrangements andcost sharing are carried out so that a successful operation and maintenance isassured through the application of a fair water tariff.

Developing countries lie the responsibility of the O&Mactivities in the government sector, which at the present in most of the LatinAmerican countries face tremendous institutional and economic problems. Inaddition, the lack of effective institutional arrangement and cost sharing makesthe achievement of operational and maintenance targets more difficult, hence,water tariffs usually do not represent the real O&M costs.

Most utilities and water companies in the region have tariffsfor water and energy that are far below the real break even prices. This lack offunding causes side effects, producing an extremely inefficient service thatusers sometimes refuse to pay for.

In the case of Perú, according to Water Law 17752issued in 1969, article No. 12 states: “The water users of each IrrigationDistrict will pay the water tariff, which will be calculated for each use basedon a volumetric unit. Those tariffs will be used to cover operation andmaintenance expenses and also to finance studies and construction of newhydraulic infrastructure needed for regional development”.

In addition the Water Law establishes the water tariff will bedivided into three components:

a. Water users association
b. Water canon
c. Amortization component
The users association component is used to finance theadministrative activities of this organization. The water canon component isused by the government as a payment for the use of the water. The amortizationcomponent is used to recover the investment in infrastructure.

As seen here, the water law considers that the water tariffshould pay for operation and maintenance costs and the amortization of theinfrastructure. However, the real situation is quite different and some of thesereasons are listed below:

a. The water tariff never has represented the realvalue of the operation, maintenance and amortization costs of a water resourcesystem.

b. The main water resources projects are considered as beingallocated for irrigation purpose. Hence, the paternalism of the governmentsupporting financially the activities in the agricultural sector and theeconomic crisis of the last 25 years has affected the efficiency of O&Mactivities.

c. The water user associations have not represented anefficient mean to make the payment of the water tariff effective. This lack ofeffectiveness is seen in the recovered amounts which have consistently beenconsiderably below the estimated ones and time delayed.

d. The water tariff has always been considerably less than itsmarginal price. This situation generates low water use efficiencies; the waterusers are willing to use more water than they really need, causing for instancefurther problems like drainage problems in the lower basin levels. Table 3 showssome water tariffs in some peruvian valleys, and Figure 1 presents the variationof the recovered amounts from 1972 to 1989.

Figure 1: Income due to WaterTariffs.

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (26)

Source: INADE (Perú)
Table 3: Water Tariffs in Peru (1991)


Estimated Tariff $/m³

Payment Made $/m³

1. Chira-Piura



2. Tinajones



3. Jequetepeque



4. Majes



Source: INADE (Perú)
2.2.2 Institutional Arrangements

The institutional arrangements are essential to assure theproper operation of a water resource system. These arrangements may come fromestablishing the right framework for operating and recovering costs to agree howthe cost sharing has to be done.

In the case of developing countries, an important step in theplanning and management process is usually skipped; this step is the commitmentof water users and government to fairly share the financial responsibilities forhaving an adequate O&M of water supply facilities.

The priorities for the O&M of infrastructure follows morepolitical reasons than technical ones. In developed countries, priorities areset up by the community with less intervention of the political system. Thus,issues like lack of appropriately trained personnel and communication equipmentis evident in emergency conditions. Lack of adequate data hampers the decisionmaking process in critical operational conditions, and if the data exists, it isusually not analyzed due to the absence of adequate personnel andequipment.

2.2.3 Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is the step through which operation, maintenanceand amortization costs are financially planned. The institutions involved in theuse of the water commit to afford the operation of the water system through thecollection of the revenues.

In the case of most of Latin-American countries the costsharing process is still a non-fully implemented one. Political intervention ofthe government and a lack of a defined responsibility from the water userassociations delay the cost recovering process, postponing in several cases theapplication of proper O&M standards.

3. Proposal of a New Approach

This proposal intends to conjugate economic efficiencycriteria and the rationale of the water resource, considering it as a publicgood susceptible to demand and the supply. Thus, this approach basicallyconsiders:

a. Implementation of the multipurpose feature ofwater in the hydraulic projects. This will allow to widen the spectrum ofaccrued benefits, and will give those projects a greater feasibility in thecovering of their O&M costs.

b. Real cost sharing among the different water users

c. Tune up of the water law in accordance with economicefficiency criteria, giving more participation to the private sector into thewater systems management.

d. Special treatment of the revenues by amortization. It willserve as an effective mean to implement further project stages and may give somefinancial flexibility to the government.

e. To avoid the decrease of the expected life of theinfrastructure, water tariffs have to be paid according to their realvalue.

f. Allocate funds for preventive maintenance as it shouldeliminate a big portion of the corrective maintenance.

g. Improvement of communication mechanisms. This will allow,for the water users, governmental institutions, and private entities within thecountry, to have a better understanding of the importance of O&M activitiesand their financial needs. Among countries, it will allow the transfer of propertechnology and experiences on O&M issues.

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

Because developing countries have invested huge amounts ofmoney, which in some cases represent an important percentage of their externaldebt, it is urgent to address financial sources to improve O&M of theexistent water supply facilities.

The lack of institutional arrangements has caused the absenceof a commitment between the users and the government to share the financialresponsibility of O&M. This situation has created a discontinuity in theplanning and management process and increased in most of the cases the O&Mcosts.

The water tariff is a mechanism that must be effective inorder to obtain the revenues as they are calculated to cover O&M.

Communication between national institutions and also amongcountries should be improved to keep all kind of information updated in regardto O&M issues.

5. References

Dirección General de Aguas, Suelos e Irrigaciones(1987) Ley General de Aguas y sus Reglamentos. Ministerio de Agricultura delPerú. Lima, Perú.

Dirección General de Aguas y Suelos (1992) EstudioBásico Situacional de los Recursos Hídricos del Perú.Ministerio de Agricultura. Lima, Perú.

Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo (1992). Tarifas de Agua enlos Proyectos Especiales, 1992-1993. Documentos Internos. Lima,Perú.

Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo (1993). Programa deInversiones de los Proyectos Especiales. Período 1993-1997. DocumentosInternos. Lima, Perú.

Intermediate Technology Development Group (1993).Gestión del Agua y Crisis Institucional. Grupo de Tecnología yServicio de Cooperación Técnica Holandés. Lima,Perú.

International Conference on Water and Environment (1992). TheDublin Statement and Report of the Conference on Water and SustainableDevelopment. Dublin, Ireland.

United Nations Development Programme (1992) Our own Agenda.Latin America and Caribbean Commission on Development and Environment.

Environmental Issues and Restrictionsfrom the Perspective of the Borrowing Countries

José G. Ochoa-Iturbe1

1 Coordinator of the EnvironmentalProgramme, School of Engineering, Universidad Católica AndrésBello, Av. Francisco de Miranda, Edificio Galipán, Entrada A, Oficina3-D, Chacao, Caracas 1060, Venezuela

When invited to participate in this Interamerican Dialogue onWater Management and to present a paper on “Environmental Issues andEnvironmentally related restrictions from the perspective of the borrowingcountries” my first reaction was to limit myself to these topics, but then,our experience in Venezuela was different. We were not obtaining funds, notbecause of environmental restrictions, but from macro-economical policies thatthe World Bank wanted implemented in the Country. These were and are therestrictions that have not permitted the water and sanitation sector ofVenezuela to obtain funds for it's improvement.

It is my conviction that if we cannot separate one sector fromthe others, funds will not be available for some time, as social and politicalpolicies are harder to implement and must be tried out in each case, as eachcountry reacts different to these policies.


In the World Development Report 1992 done by the World Bank,chapter 5 starts with the following lines: “For many people in thedeveloping countries the most important of the environmental problems are thoserelated with water supply, sanitation and the disposal of solid wastes. If allthe population had adequate water and sanitation services, more than two milliondeaths caused by diarrheic maladies could be avoided” (1). What this meansis that for us, environment is probably something different than for developedcountries, where this problems have been overcome.

That is why, when seeking foreign aid for our development,environmental considerations are always on our minds, one way or the other,because for us it is not just a matter of building something (a road, a dam),but the welfare that our population will derive from these projects (decentstandard of living, some quantity and quality of water, etc.).Therefore, wecould say that “environment” is a critical health problem fordeveloping countries and not just a matter of improving the environment per se(cleaner air, preserving biodiversity, etc).

In trying to solve these issues our governments have soughtforeign aid, specially from the World Bank or the Interamerican DevelopmentBank, where better loaning conditions are to be had as the purpose of thesebanks was, and is, to provide funds for development (The World Bank really beganas the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). However thesefunds have always had some conditioning factors to guarantee the Bank that themoney is put to good use. Some of them, unfortunately, are more on the politicalissues than on the environmental ones, thus giving the sector a secondary andconditioned position. This, at least has been the case of Venezuela.

VENEZUELA: an Attempt to Obtain Funds for the Water andEnvironment Sectors

When we began in 1989 to seek funds to reform and better ourwater supply and sanitation services, long deteriorated due to pooradministration practice in the main agency that was in charge of these services,we naturally came to the World Bank, as the most probable source of funds forthe rehabilitation of the sector. However, loaning conditions for the sectorwere set within the overall “ Bank's objective to help the governmentovercome it's present economic and financial crisis”(2). Therefore, unlessthe government complied with the economic recommendations that were suggested,the water and environment sector would not receive the necessary funds. Therewere, of course, some conditions within the sector i.e. elimination of theNational Agency (INOS), creation of regional operating companies to handle watersupply and sewage systems, raise in tariffs, etc.

To make a long story short, these sector conditions have beenmet almost to the last point (even tariffs have been raised, although not yet tothe level of self-sustainability). This has not happened in the macro-economicalarena, where some of the measures recommended have caused rioting in ourcountry. Specially in 1989 we had a serious one - gas prices were raised - andriots lasted three days with heavy losses in lives and assets. The governmentwent back to new discussions with the Bank on overall strategies to implementthe agreed policies. This has been going on since. To this day the water andenvironment sector has not been able to receive funds for their projects,although we have submitted for approval several proposals for environmentalcleanup and rehabilitation of the water supply systems. IDB has been moreresponsive, and we have a couple of projects going on with their help.

Because of all these delays a move was made in the directionof bilateral financing, where, with some son of backup from the World Bank,funds could be had (at higher rates and restricted conditions). But, as aresult, we now have several ongoing projects with financing from the U.S.,Canada, England and Germany. This is helping us solve our most urgentproblems.

In dealing with the Bank, one of the first things that shouldbe mentioned is that we were always dealing with new people (new sectors, newchiefs of divisions, new delegations) and, of course, this meant renewedexplanations and presentations of the same projects over and over again. Changeswere made in the proposals, according to new points of view from therepresentative in turn, and lot's of time was lost this way.

We know that in some other countries in the region, like Peruand Bolivia, loans have been made and projects are on their way and it could bevery helpful for all of us to hear about their experience in this dialogueconference.

My feeling is that environmental restrictions for loans fromthe international financing banks are commendable, as protection of theenvironment is a present and future necessity. But we must bear in mind thatdevelopment and environment are linked by that new word “sustainable”,and that to carry this through, great investments are needed as the technologyis foreign and expensive, and that our countries are in a poor financialcondition to implement them. In fact in the document “Our Own Agenda”(3) it is stated that developed nations should be part of this“investing” as our common future needs it. The brake of commercialbarriers and easier communications has made the World shrink and as economiesare more and more heavily tied, problems belong more to humanity than to adetermined sector or country.

That is why I think that the Bank or any lending institutionhas to revise it's borrowing conditions where environmental projects areconcerned. All of us, as a sector that deals with human survival, should not besubject to certain economic conditions, however important they might be, but ourprojects should be analyzed on the context of what will happen if the loan isnot given.(we could mention the bout with Cholera over a year ago, where caseswere reported very far from the original point of detection).

Again our suggestion is that dealings with the water andenvironmental sectors should go apart from other political or economicalconsiderations. In this way we could improve our quality of life, our health andas a result we could pursue our sustainable development faster (only healthypeople can work and produce properly)

One final consideration should be given to the debt problemfrom Latin America, now at a figure around $ 459 billion. The service of thisdebt is enormous and ways must be sought to solve it so we can pay and developat the same time. Borrowing countries should be aware that this isn't helpinganybody in the long run, and that their cooperation in solving this problem isessential.


More than “recommending” we might suggest thatfuture loans for our sector should be worked out on the followingpremises:

A) The water and environmental projects should notbe restricted by other considerations (economical, political) but by their ownfeasible limitations, as they form part of an effort for human welfare andsurvival.

B) Officials from the Banks should be maintained on theirposts, long enough in a project to push it through. Perhaps the creation of apermanent delegate for the sector within the borrowing country would help pavethe way.

C) Though not mentioned in this discussion, possibilitiesshould be open for companies within the borrowing countries to tender in theseprojects. This would have a multiplying effect within the country as more moneywould circulate, benefiting indirectly part of the workforce.

I would like to end by thanking the organizers for thisopportunity and commend their efforts for making possible this dialogue andfuture ones.


1. Banco Mundial. Informe Sobre el Desarrollo Mundial1992.

2. Letter to the Ministry from the World Bank, Nov1989.

3. PNUD y BID. Comisión de Desarrollo y Medio Ambientede America Latina y el Caribe. Nuestra Propia Agenda, 1990.

Regional Plan for Investment in theEnvironment and Health

Horst Otterstetter1

1 Director, Environmental Health,Pan-American Health Organization, 525 23rd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037,USA
Editor's Note: At the time of publication of theseproceedings, the english version of the presentation was not available. A reporttitled “Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment and Health -Background, Strategies, Fund of Preinvestment” is available upon request bywriting to the author.


The economic stagnation that took place in Latin America andthe Caribbean Region during the 1980's decreased public and private investmentdramatically generating striking deficiencies in drinking water supply,sanitation, and in the replacement and maintenance of equipment and physicalinfrastructure. These deficiencies are evidenced by the violent outbreak ofepidemics, such as cholera, as well as the high incidence of diarrheal diseasein the Region, a major contributor to the approximately 130,000 deaths thatoccur annually among children under 5 years of age.

In order to cope with this situation there is a need for astrategy which includes short and long term interventions. With this objective,and as a response to the mandate given by the I Ibero-American Summit ofPresidents and Heads of State, PAHO structured the document “Regional Planfor Investment in the Environment and Health”. This plan identifiesinvestments required in the Region to overcome the aforementioned deficit, andproposes some strategies for its implementation at the country and at theregional level. It also proposes the terms of reference to establish aMultilateral Fund for the development of pre-investment activities necessary forthe implementation of the Regional Plan and suggests investing approximately US$216,000 million over a 12-year period. Seventy percent of these funds will befinanced using national resources and 30% from external sources.

The Plan should be understood as a strategy, a frame ofreference, and a process.

· As a strategy, itis intended to contribute to the achievement of indispensable reforms in thesystems and services intended to ensure the protection and control of theenvironment and provide direct health care services for thepopulation.

· As a frame of reference, itsuggests priority areas for investment; proposes the need to define criteria ofquality, productivity and efficiency; and presents alternatives for action thatwill be more effective than in the past. The countries - in accordance withtheir individual realities, potentialities, and limitations - will utilize thisframe of reference to formulate their own national Plans of Investment anddevelop specific projects.

· As a process, it will operatebasically at the country level. This is an initial step, and is intended tospur, promote, and facilitate future action.

An Investigation of the Barriers toPrivate Sector Participation in Water Resources and Sewerage Services in LatinAmerica

Barbara Richard and Kenneth Rubin1

1 Apogee Research Inc., 4350 East WestHighway Suite #600, Bethesda, Maryland 20854, USA.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication of theseproceedings, the english version of the presentation was not available. Furtherinformation on this presentation and topic may be available directly from theauthors.


On behalf of the Infrastructure and Urban DevelopmentDepartment of the World Bank, Apogee Research, Inc. is undertaking a study ofregulatory barriers to private sector involvement in water and sewerage servicesthat exist in Latin America, with the explicit recognition that lowering suchbarriers is one small, but important, step in improving the efficiency of watersewerage service provision.

Regulation in the U.S.A., U.K., and France, while different ineach country, shares some basic tenets. The institutional histories in manyLatin American countries render some of these tenets irrelevant and unimportantto successful privatization efforts - in short - the rules for successfulventures are different. This study attempts to pinpoint the critical issues fromthe private provider's point of view as well as a potential or actualconcessionaire, in order to learn from the success or failure of previousefforts in the region.

Privatization of water and sanitation in Latin America hasconcentrated on long-term concessions of water supply systems, the recentprivatization of the Buenos Aires water supply system and the Mexico City awardsbeing the largest to date. The study looks closely at these two privatizationefforts and compares them to each other, and to a failed attempt inCaracas.

(Video) Seminar 7: Big Data and Transboundary Water Governance in Southern Africa Roundtable

Government representatives from host countries also will beinterviewed, to compare their perception of the critical elements for successfulprivatization efforts to those articulated by private providers.

Roundtable II - Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context (27)


1. Engineering for WASH in Healthcare Facilities: Roundtable Discussion
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(OECD Environment)
6. 3rd OECD Roundtable on Cities and Regions for the SDGs - Day 2
(OECD SMEs, Regions and Cities)
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