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

Background Paper: Sustainable Water Resources Management: The Challenge of the 21st Century
Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose Water Resources Projects
Sub-track: Economics and Financing


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

María C. Flores de Otero, International President, Asociación Interamericana de Ingeniería Sanitaria y Ambiental (AIDIS), Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico


Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose Water Resources Projects

Dr. Medardo Molina, Chief Technical Advisor, U.N. World Meteorological Organization - FINNIDA Project for the Rehabilitation of the Hydro-Meteorological Systems of the Central American Isthmus, San José, Costa Rica

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

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

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

Vinio Floris, Supervisory Professional, Department of Planning, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida
Background Paper
Sustainable Water Resources Management: The Challenge of the 21st Century, by Absalón Vásquez, Arsenio Milian, and Vinio Floris
Papers and Authors

Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose Water Resources Projects

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

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

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

4. Hydrometeorological Networks and Data Management for Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, by Medardo Molina, FINNIDA Project, San José, Costa Rica; Eladio Zárate, Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos, San José, Costa Rica; and Nabil Kawas, Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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

6. Planning - A Must in the Conservation of Natural Resources: The Puerto Rico Experience, by Haraldo Otero-Torres and Maria C. Flores de Otero, Consulting Engineers, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.

7. Appropriate Technologies of Wastewater Treatment for Sustainable Development, by Ernesto Perez, Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Sub-track: Economics and Financing

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

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

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

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

12. Environmental Issues and Environmentally Related Restrictions from the Perspective of the Borrowing Country, by José Ochoa-Iturbe, Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Caracas, Venezuela.

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

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

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

Absalón Vásquez1, Arsenio Milián², 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 32nd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33145, USA

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

A Background Paper prepared for discussion in the Roundtable Track II: Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure in a Sustainable Development Context

Water, air, food, heat and light constitute the five essentials for human existence. However, all body processes are so closely related to the presence of water, that it can be truthfully said that all life depends 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 body temperature, in assisting with adequate digestion and lubricating moving joints to name a few.

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

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

There are only two sources of water supply available to humans-surface sources such as lakes, streams and drainage basins that ultimately runnel water to holding reservoirs, and ground sources which include wells, springs and horizontal galleries. Both of these sources are not always separate. Hydraulic interconnections exist in such ways that ground waters at one particular location may appear at the surface of the earth at another distant site. It is worth noting that less than 3% of the fluid freshwater available in our planet occurs in streams and lakes. The other remaining 97% is underground.

As populations throughout the world continue to increase at an alarming rate, we are faced with the problem of more and more competition for water resources primarily for domestic consumption, irrigation, power generation, flood control, recreation, transportation, and the maintenance of natural systems for the conservation of fish and wildlife. It has become evident that some form of compromise between competing uses is essential, since the different uses are not necessarily compatible.

It has been determined that where the resources are properly managed and the demands for safe drinking water is met, national development and improvement of living standards have occurred. Where it has not been met, development has lagged and living standards have remained low. Unfortunately a recent United Nations report concluded that two thirds of the world's underprivileged people have no access to drinking water, and while millions become homeless from floods, hundreds of millions are coping with drought.

Since many of these quantity related problems are due to poor management. It is of utmost importance that priorities be established for the more efficient use and management of water resources that are not equally distributed on our planet. Inefficient irrigation practices, excessive demands by industries and municipalities and lack of conservation practices, are some of the obstacles that must be conquered before true Sustainable development is achieved. As a result, competition for water resources, especially in areas frequently affected by drought, or where scarcity generally exists, create instability between regions, cities, and even nations. Our challenge today is to establish our priorities more adequately and implement available technologies that should improve our efforts to use the resources more efficiently to avert critical consequences due to waste, mismanagement and overuse.

Water, a Renewable Resource

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

As previously discussed, there are many different demands in the use of water (commercial, industrial, and public among them); but in general, the use of water for irrigation and agricultural pursuits has exerted high 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 very inexpensively. This type of mind set has led to negative impacts to the quantity and quality of the resources. Both the quality and quantity are interconnected in the development of water when is required to meet the demands for a particular use. They should never be considered independently from each other, since the usefulness of the maximum water withdrawn will be limited by its quality. From the users' point of view, water quality is evaluated by the physical and chemical characteristics necessary to satisfy a specific use.

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

On the other hand, larger demands exerted by larger populations, and industries also create large quantities of wastes that may contaminate our major sources with organic and inorganic pollution. Of all environmental problems we face, contaminated water is probably the one of highest repercussion. Each year millions of people throughout the world die of illnesses attributable to waterborne intestinal diseases. As our population grows, the need to conserve, properly treat and reuse water will increase.

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

Irrigation and Drainage: Present and Future

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

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

The economic and financial crisis of the 80's generated questions 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 who have made the most important changes in those policies. All these countries have selected different mechanisms but all have as a common denominator: the attempt to integrate and coordinate water management in a sustainable development context. Peru, for instance, is currently in the process of defining a new water policy in which the private sector, government and all users are involved. The peruvian government understands that a water market is needed keeping in mind that water is, above all, a very important public asset to which all humans should have access to, not only to satisfy basic needs, but for enjoyment and recreation as well.

Countries in Latin America use different means to promote irrigation and drainage. If we take Brazil and Peru as an example, they use the following motivations and means:

· encourage the implementation of large irrigation and drainage projects based on regional development plans, such as the irrigation project of the Vale do Sao Francisco in Brazil and the large irrigation projects in the coast of Peru;

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

With regards to improvement of irrigation efficiency, all countries of the Region share the same concerns. However, there are some differences in how to achieve that goal. Venezuela, for instance, has a very aggressive agricultural policy for achieving irrigation efficiency by improving drainage capabilities in irrigated lands.

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

Water and Soil Conservation

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

Most of the lands with severe problems are located in the mountainous or sierra regions. It might sound difficult to believe but many pre-columbian indian cultures used techniques that were extremely efficient in the prevention of soil erosion, however, those techniques have not been continued and now the problems faced are severe. An important effort for conserving water and soil is being carried out by the governments of the Region at the basin level. Table 2 shows the characteristics of watershed management implemented by different Latin American countries.

It is essential to understand the need to manage the resources in such a way that current generations can benefit, yet maintain a high level of quality for future generations. This is the concept of sustainable development that is quickly gaining international acceptance. It is basically a process in which the allocation of resources and investments are made consistent with present as well as future needs. This implies harvesting only the sustainable production or enjoying only the sustainable level of services their ecosystem can deliver.

Figure 1: Latin America and the Caribbean Irrigated Land

Source: ECLAC

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

Source: FAO
Table 1: Irrigated Surface for Latin America and the Caribbean





































Costa Rica
























El Salvador


































































Dominican Rep.






St. Lucia






St. Vincent/Grenadines




































Table 2: Watershed Management Status in Latin America

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 not exist
c. Interest in pilot basin and hydropower projects
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Basin in the Caribbean Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific
b. An integrated micro-basins program exists
c. Selection is done based on current and future water availability
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 and small areas

El Salvador

a. Seventeen basins in ten regions


a. Thirty one basins
b. Until 1988, 82 units of watershed management were operational
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 Lake Titicaca
b. Methodology for basins, sub-basins and micro-basins
c. Projects oriented to soil conservation and increase of productivity
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 human life
d. International cooperation and internal resources


a. Two hundred thirty seven basins
b. Methodology available that assigns priorities to basins
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 protection from floods and other natural phenomena


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


a. Three kinds of basins at high (most of the rural population), 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 and Projects of watershed Management. Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1991.

Hydropower Generation

As stated previously, energy is one of the main elements for development. One of the most practical ways of obtaining it is through hydropower generation by convening hydraulic energy to mechanical and finally to electrical. To obtain this kind of energy not only are economic resources required, but also natural conditions (topography and hydrology). Latin America is very fortunate with the latter. Its high slope mountains and high river flows create an enormous hydropower potential (around 22% of the world), representing 700,000 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 the Region (64%), while thermoelectric plants represent 32.4%. The energy generated in 1991 was estimated around 590,000 Gigawatts-hour. The increased demand in the Region 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 that must be corrected and priorities that have to be established, in order to increase efficiency and supply energy to a large group of the Region's population.

a. The high initial investment of hydropower plants are incentives for some to use conventional options like thermoelectric centrals. The latter ones require much lower initial investment but have high operation and maintenance costs. Another drawback would be the dependence on some combustible product that might create environmental problems and may not be available in many countries in the Region (Caribbean Islands, for example).

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

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

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

e. Existence of the single-purpose hydraulic projects. Though this vision is disappearing, many projects were created with this in mind. This goes against the modern systems approach theory which states that infrastructure can be used with multipurpose goals: energy, irrigation, flood control, water supply 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 creates uncertainty when long versus short term decisions are evaluated, the construction of small of large plants are analyzed and the implementation of efficient interconnected systems.

One of the best ways to avoid making errors is to learn from past mistakes. It is important to establish mechanisms to connect users and providers together, technical and administrative personnel and legislative organizations of governments. This is the only way to provide a reliable and efficient service and to reach sustainable development.

The Road Ahead

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

The use of present technologies and innovative ideas should lead the Region to live in balance with its water resources. It will be essential to achieve a sustainable water resources management for the 21st century since the urban and natural environment, the economy, and the quality of life of the Region depend on it.

Sub-track: Technological Aspects of Multipurpose Water Resources Projects

Water Resources Planning and Management in an Era of Sustainable Development - An Integrated Economic, Engineering, Environmental and Institutional Approach
A Hemispheric Network Development as a Vehicle to Ensure Education, Training, and Technology Transfer in Water Resources Projects
Priority Regions in Latin America for Water Management
Hydrometeorological Networks and Data Management for Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America
Water Management for the 21st Century
Planning - A Must in the Conservation of Natural Resources: The Puerto Rico Experience
Appropriate Technologies of Wastewater Treatment for Sustainable Development

Water Resources Planning and Management 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 many parts of the world, including North America, will stimulate water resource professionals to seek better planning and management approaches. One such approach will be to integrate ecology, economics, technology and institutions in the analysis of water quantity and quality problems within a watershed.


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

New Scientific Knowledge

New scientific knowledge has been gained in many subjects during the past decade. One that has stimulated interest in sustainability is the ecosystem perspective. Water resource professionals have historically planned and managed in a piecemeal manner. With some notable exceptions, water quantity and quality problems have been solved separately. Related land use issues such as urban sprawl have been addressed with a minimum of attention to the impact on adjacent communities or the receiving waters. The ecosystem perspective was introduced into the Great Lakes in the early 1980's as evidence grew of persistent toxics bioaccumulating in fish and fish eating birds (Harris, State of the Bay). Attention to upstream contributions of nutrients, suspended solids and persistent toxics to downstream pollution problems also emphasized the interconnecting features of a watershed ecosystem. Recognition of wetlands as valuable pans of a watershed has also occurred in this time period. Today the ecosystem perspective is generally accepted in many regions as a central part of land 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 the quality of life. The rapidly growing world population is causing some nations to consider water as a strategic resource. The Middle East is the most notable example. Allocation of the region's water resources, e.g. the Nile, the Tigris, the Euphrates and the Jordan Rivers, will become increasingly important as the population grows. Other regions also have limited water and rapidly growing populations (Downey, et. al.). The poverty levels in a particular nation often correlate directly with population density and inversely with the use of water. The concept of sustainable growth may help water planners and policy makers in such problem areas to prepare for the future.

Changing Global Economy

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

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


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

The draft of the latest Clean Water Act, the primary federal law governing surface water pollution abatement, contains several features that indicate LRM will be history soon. Two of them are pollution prevention and watershed based planning. Pollution prevention has been a part of industrial management for decades due to the economic benefits. Now the idea is being applied 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 management of water resources in France and in the United Kingdom for many years. Now the idea is being proposed here. The opportunities for achieving more cost effective water pollution abatement make the watershed approach very attractive. The challenge 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 of such an integrated analysis would be a step toward achieving the sustainability of water resources.

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


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

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

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

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

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

The second step would be to ask the scientists and engineers who have been modeling water and sediment quality in the receiving waters to estimate what reductions in inputs of various materials into the waters would be necessary to achieve the indicated values of the water and sediment quality indicators for each of the target sets. For example, water clarity along the beaches is predominantly affected by suspended sediment concentrations. Using the Secchi disk measurement as the indicator of water clarity, the relationship between the Secchi disk measurement and suspended sediment concentration at each beach would be specified by researchers.

The third step would be to ask the scientists and engineers what reductions in suspended sediment discharge into the waters would be necessary to achieve the suspended sediment concentrations at each beach specified in step 2. The result of that specification is illustrated in Figure 1, showing the Secchi disk reading associated with the three different levels of suspended sediment input reduction necessary to achieve the concentrations required for swimming for the three output levels.

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

For each of the major sources, estimates are made of the costs of reducing suspended sediment discharges by different amounts. That is, for most sources there are several different degrees of discharge reduction which are possible. For example a municipal wastewater treatment plant could reduce suspended sediment discharges by 35%, 65%, 80%. Costs, of course, increase as more and more discharge reduction is achieved, remembering that, in the case of point sources, removing suspended sediment (or any material) from the liquid waste stream results in a semi-solid material, sludge, which itself requires disposal. Capital and annual operation, maintenance, and replacement (OMR) costs are included. Typically annual costs of each alternative are computed, in order to compare the different alternatives (Grant, et. al.). These annual costs are converted into unit costs per ton of reduced suspended sediment discharge into the downstream receiving waters. (This, of course, requires understanding the transport and deposition processes between the discharge location for each source and the downstream area.) The unit costs would be compiled as shown in Table 1. (Note: In that table, all activities in a given subwatershed have been aggregated. In a real analysis, individual sources in each watershed would be identified, except where those sources are individually so small that it is more logical to “lump” them.) The important column for decision making is the last column, which shows the cost per ton of reducing suspended solids discharge from the source into the receiving waters.

The fifth, and last step, would be to select the least cost combination of measures to achieve the level of discharge reduction specified for each target set. One starts with the measure which has the lowest cost per unit of discharge into the downstream receiving waters reduced. This may be a major point source, urban storm runoff from a municipality or some agricultural operations in a particular subwatershed. If the reduction that would be achieved (or is estimated to be achieved) by this source is not sufficient to achieve the designated reduction, then the option with the next lowest cost per unit would be added. The process of adding measures would be continued until the necessary total reduction is achieved. The results for the three target sets would be as compiled in Table 2 and shown in Figure 2.

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

Figure 1. Relationship Between Reduction in Suspended Sediment Input to Downstream Water and Secchi Disk Reading at an Adjacent Beach

Figure 2. Least Cost combination of Measures to Reduce Suspended Solids (SS) Inputs to Achieve Specified Target Sets

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 X Capital Recovery Factor, CRF, e.g., 10% at 15 years = CRF of 0.1315; 7.5% at 20 years = CRF of 0.1.

(2) Total costs are net costs, i.e., in some cases measures to reduce discharges result in some savings, such as recovered materials or reduced inputs.

Table 2. Least Cost Combinations of Measures to Achieve the Reduction in Suspended Solids, SS, Inputs Downstream Waters to Achieve Swimming Goal 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 to help set policy. Legally, the regulating agency would decide what target set should be achieved. Politically, the general public and their elected representatives, would have major responsibilities. How much are the citizens in the watershed willing to pay to achieve desired outputs from the receiving waters? The same set of outputs can be achieved at different costs. Thus, if more efficient ways of achieving cost effective ways of obtaining the outputs are sought and adopted, either higher levels of outputs can be achieved with the same resources or the “saved” resources can be used for activities in other desired sectors.

What is essential is that the full ranges of physical measures, implementation incentives, institutional arrangements, and financing mechanisms be considered in the analysis process and in the decision process.

Now that the least cost approach is better understood, the practical application of these ideas is considered. Two possible demonstration sites, one in the United States and the other in Mexico, are briefly discussed.


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

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

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

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

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

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

The results were very preliminary and did not include all features of the least cost approach. They also did not include all recognized pollutants, e.g., river sediments contaminated with PCB's from past paper mill sludge deposits. The results did show three new pieces of evidence not available previously (Analysis Team):

- The goal of removing 50% of the phosphorus presently entering Green Bay at the mouth of the river could not be achieved without some reduction of agricultural non point sources.

- The cost of reducing phosphorus and suspended solids from agricultural non point sources was often 1% of the cost to remove the same amount at municipal and industrial point sources.

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

Figure 3. Location of Fox-Wolf Watershed in relation to the Bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan and the State of Wisconsin.

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

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

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

The two demonstration sites contain similar land areas and populations. Most other features are quite different. The Yucatán site is karstic, i.e., the bedrock is highly fractured and there is little or no top soil. The result is that there is no runoff from the rainfall. The water either evaporates into the atmosphere or infiltrates into the aquifer. The concept of a surface land area serving as a watershed does not apply. There is little or no contaminated surface water inland and most of the brackish shoreline wetlands show little evidence of degradation today. Two national bird sanctuaries and a generally healthy commercial fishery exist along the coast.

The problem is the increasing contamination of the fresh water aquifer in most urban areas with special attention to the Mérida metropolitan region. There is no community wide sewerage system. Most residences have a simple septic tank that drains directly into the shallow aquifer. The aquifer drains very slowly north to the Gulf of Mexico. The karst geology makes it very difficult to predict micro scale groundwater motion. From a regional or macro scale view, the long term result seems quite clear. The shoreline marshes, called ciénega, will become the sites of a contaminated shoreline ecosystem. Persistent toxics released into the aquifer near Mérida from a variety of urban sources and elsewhere in developing orange groves, will emerge at the coast and bioaccumulate in the fish and fish eating birds. The value of the shoreline as a natural area and as an area for future development for tourism will be sharply diminished.

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


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


The years ahead will bring increasing demand for improvements in the planning and management of our water resources. The concept of sustainable development will stimulate the demand. One alternative for such improvements is to use the least cost mix of actions as the nucleus for an integrated management approach. This approach would invoke the explicit inclusion of ecology, economics, technology and institutions. Many existing features of both water quality and quantity planning and management are part of this integrated approach. The value comes from a synergistic effect of the integration. There is very little experience in the use of this integrated management approach and more is needed.

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

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


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

The Yucatán demonstration site narrative was based upon many visits to the area during the past ten years and discussions on the subject with a number of faculty and research staff of the Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, Mérida, Yucatán. Ing. Miguel Villasuso Pino has been especially helpful.

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


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

Harris, H.J., “The State of the Bay”, Report produced by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Institute for Land and Water Studies, Green Bay, WI, 1990.

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

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

Grant, E. L. and W. Ireson, Principles of Engineering Economy - 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 Lakes Study”, The International Journal of Environmental Studies, Volume 29, Number 1 (1987).

Analysis Team, “Cost Effective Implementation of Water Resources Objectives In the Fox-Wolf Basin,” Unpublished report by the Northeast Wisconsin Waters for Tomorrow, Inc., Green Bay, WI, July 1993.

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

A Hemispheric Network Development as a Vehicle to Ensure Education, Training, and Technology Transfer in Water Resources Projects

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

1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Drinking Water Research Center, Florida International University, 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 Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33199, USA


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

Pursuit of concrete action plans that emerged from the conference requires acknowledgement and implementation of a range of programme areas relating to freshwater, such as water resources assessments, integrated water resources development and management, protection of water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and drinking water supply and sanitation, among others. At the onset of a Continental Dialogue, a prime concern in launching an International Water Resources Network is to scope the potential role of such network in education, training, and technology transfer.

Herein, typical initiatives are recognized where networks are positively supporting and catalyzing professional advancement, continuing education, information exchange, and problem-solving through specialized volunteer contributions. Barriers that need be addressed are also identified. A priority list of specific goals and tasks for the development of the network in the Americas is also presented.


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

At least four of the principles establish the spirit to implement communication lines, such as a network, that would facilitate flow of information for education, training, and technology transfer in water resources projects.

Principle 3. “The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.”

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

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

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

Conclusively, the message is clear. In order to protect our biosphere for all generations of humans, people must become partners that timely exchange information. The message is generic to all priority actions articulated in Agenda 21, but it particularly acquires a much more direct and immediate dimension in the case of freshwater resources projects, considering its vital role in the sustenance of all life forms on Earth.

The establishment of a communication network in the Western hemisphere, with the purpose of launching a comprehensive Inter-American effort to protect the quality and supply of freshwater resources for the people of the Americas, becomes then a prime task to achieve water needs for human development activities in all American communities. The network should stem from due considerations of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems which must reach all locations within the political boundaries of each country, but extending across international 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 and management;
b) protection of water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems;
c) provision of drinking-water supply and sanitation; and
d) provision of water for sustainable food production and rural development.
Of course, the network can only be possible by assuring, at least, the following critical means:
a) new and additional financial resources; and
b) development of human resources.

In exploring the best approaches to developing a hemispheric network with emphasis on water resources, it is important to review previous experiences which can provide a basis for further efforts. This section describes selected examples of past or current partnerships for networking in the hemisphere.

The UNESCO International Hydrological Initiative

In 1965, UNESCO, as a contribution to the solution of the worldwide problems, began the first worldwide programme of studies of the hydrological cycle, the International Hydrological Decade, IHD, 1965-1974. The research programme included a major effort in the field of hydrological education and training. By the end of the decade, most UNESCO's Member States had built capacity to carry out national priorities and participate in regional and international cooperations. In 1975, UNESCO followed the IHD with the International Hydrological Programme, IHP, 1975-present, a scientific and educational programme which has gradually shifted into a multi-disciplinary approach to the assessment, planning, and rational management of water resources.

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

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

Water for People, WFP

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

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

This initiative is an example of partnerships among individuals, corporations, utilities, organizations and agencies, which come together as volunteers in education, training, information transfer, within projects and solutions to specific regional and local problems. Financing taps the caring of people across the world which brings them together in a network of satisfying contributions.

Computer Databases with Latin American Information

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

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

The Latin America Data Base (LADB) was created in 1985 at the University of New Mexico (UNM, 1992). The database has the objective of generating easily and timely, comprehensive information on the regional economic news and analysis easily to scholars, business people, activists, and government officials. It utilizes print media, radio, telecommunications and satellite technologies to report on Latin American events and developments. The base is updated weekly and can be accessed via direct or linked networks (e.g., New Mexico Technet and Dialog).

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

An interesting initiative is CUIDES (The Inter-American University Council for Economics and Social Development) launched by the University of Arkansas (Miller, 1991). Since 1986, CUIDES has been working to establish a mechanism to encourage and facilitate the exchange of water resources expertise and technology in the Americas, a first step toward establishing a focus on water resource management expertise in the Americas. The data base is being used to identify water resource issues, and also individuals and organizations with expertise in water resources who have the willingness to share their expertise internationally. A next step involves exchanges, hemispheric conferences, seminars, and the development of an innovative water resources curriculum. A major aim is to understand ways for cooperative networking 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 level engineering courses are delivered to industrial sites and cooperating centers via telecommunications. The system is an evolving approach to provide quality graduate and continuing education to engineers at their work site in the State of Florida. The system was funded by special action of the Florida Legislature through cooperation of all the universities of the State University System. The universities with graduate programs are Primary Centers, the other universities are Cooperating Centers. In addition there are Industrial FEEDS Centers which have been established at industrial sites.

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

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


Over the last century and a half, communication technologies have brought fundamental transformation of society (Harasim, 1993). The slow communication alternatives across distance, with place-dependent human encounters (e.g., drums, messengers) have been replaced by fast and reliable computer-based technologies (Ives, 1991) that can simultaneously network people from 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 rapidly facilitated by global networking. Soon after ARPANET, the first large-scale packet switched network, was implemented in 1969, electronic mail was possible across the world. Today, global networks carried an overwhelming amount of information to millions of users on the planet. Thus, the telephone, computer, and satellite technologies have effectively combined to produce new modes of human interactions and societal activities. Effects are revolutionizing the fundamental concepts of speed and distance which is affecting the lives of every human being and community. For instance, “face-to-face” meetings can now be replaced by “on-line” meetings or in “cyberspace.”

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

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

Internet connects more than two thousand smaller networks. It provides E-mail, bulletin boards, databases, library catalogs, chat lines, multiuser domains, discussion groups, and access to supercomputers by scientists and engineers. BITNET (Because It's Time Network) links academic institutions in more than thirty countries, supplying mailing lists, E-mail, and short-time interactions. USENET (User's Network) is a worldwide voluntary member network with 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. It connects six continents through E-mail, public conferences, and file transfers.

Computer teleconferencing offers opportunities for groups with various interests to communicate by text. Multimedia resources, that incorporate graphics, video and sound, are rapidly becoming available. Most interestingly, but still in development, is the potential of televirtuality, namely, the sharing of a three-dimensional space over a telecommunications network.

Overall, understanding the potential of networks is of utmost concern to establishing a hemispheric network to facilitate the implementation of water resources projects within a scope of sustainable development. In fact, education, training, and technology must consider the use of the new places for human 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 happen without overcoming a number of barriers (Kasman, 1992; Maltezou, 1992). Barriers or differences can be generically grouped in four major categories: political, cultural, technical, and financial.

Political barriers are related to the lack of incentive, among country or community leaders and representatives, to acknowledge the importance of water resources projects. These could be particularly difficult in countries or communities where lack of education or other basic priorities and interests handicap governmental action and effective public participation.

Among the cultural barriers, an important issue is the widely spread use of English in current networks. Unless potential users learn English and other common languages or information is effectively translated to as many languages as possible, a very large sector of the continental population will remain isolated. In the American continent Spanish is definitely a priority language, followed by Portuguese.

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

As Agenda 21 defines it, the developing countries will not be able to meet environmental and development goals without the provision of financial resources. Importantly, the cost of inaction would far outweigh the total financial costs of implementing Agenda 21, and narrow the choices of future generations as well. Conclusively, it has to be assumed that the sources of financing will meet their challenge. Sources include the Official Development Assistance from the developed countries; the International Development Association; regional and subregional development banks; United Nations bodies and other organizations; private funding; and reallocation of resources committed to military resources, among others.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

g) to improve cooperation and collaboration among governmental, private, and academic sectors, across disciplines involved in water resources management; and

h) to ensure commitment at the political and management levels, since this is essential for the viability and sustainability of a network, and interagency, interregional, and international exchange and sharing.

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

Consequently with the goals, the following tasks are presented as immediate steps to take this Inter-American Dialogue into an Inter-American Network 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 and international agendas of water-related congresses, conferences, meetings, and workshops;

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

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

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

f) to establish a principle of incorporating a network component as an integral part of all water resources initiatives/projects;

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

h) to establish a principle of free information exchange.


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

Attempts and experiences of networking in Latin America by initiatives in the various nations of the continent are encouraging. They also constitute a starting reference for future networking. Global networks offer a valuable resource to communicate across the Americas. They can be used by academia, industry, government, and the private sector to begin a permanent communication on water resources issues.

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

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

Finally, the following statements are recommended for inclusion in the Miami Declaration:

Considering that
a) the present generations in the Americas have a responsibility to future generations; and
b) the nations of the American continent agreed on Agenda 21;
c) the Americas contain rich and unique freshwater resources;
It is recommended that
a) A continental network must be developed to facilitate and enhance education, training, and technology transfer in the field of water resources;

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

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

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


AWWA, 1992. Water for People. Brochure, American Water Works Association. Denver, Colorado.

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

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

FIU, 1993. Engineering/Professional Development FEEDS Approved Policies and Procedures. College of Engineering and Design, Florida International University, Miami, Florida.

Gilbrich, W.H. 1991. 25 years of UNESCO's Programme in Hydrological 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. Water International 16:241-242.

Ives, S. R. 1991. Managing Information Networks. Reed Business Publishing, England.

Kasman, M. S. 1992. Economic and Legal Barriers to the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies to Developing Countries. Pp. 162-169 in UNESCO, ed., Environmentally Sound Technology for Sustainable Development, ATAS Bulletin, Issue 7, United Nations Publications, New York.

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

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

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

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

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


In order to continue the Dialogue, Florida International University (FIU) through the Environmental Engineering Program, has created an E-mail address or repository to build an electronic mailing list of interested parties, H2ONET.

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

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

Priority Regions in Latin America for Water 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 various regions of Latin America, it is advantageous to establish relative priorities. There are two main reasons for this: (1) The urgency for economic/social development that depends on the water resource is high in some regions but less so in others; and (2) Qualified manpower and funds are in short supply.

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

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

· What steps should now be taken?
· What can be learned from the region's history up to the present?
· What help from outside the regions would be useful?
Selection of the Regions

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

· Is water control critical to sustainable development of the region?

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

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

The priority regions selected are:
· Mexico, the Gulf Coast;
· Colombia, the Upper Cauca Valley;
· Ecuador, the Lower Guayas Valley;
· Brazil, the Northeast;
· Peru, the Coast;
· Chile, the Santiago region; and
· Colombia, the lower Cauca and Magdalena Valleys.
The attached table gives figures on areas (gross and arable) and on population (regional and principal cities), and lists the agencies concerned (national as well as international).

The author's judgements regarding the foregoing questions have been based on numerous visits to the regions listed. Except for Brazil, the visits were in the form of “missions” for the World Bank, when he acted as mission leader. The missions were for various purposes including: regional resource planning (as a prelude to specific project planning), project pre-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 and agronomists. In the case of Colombia, he resided in Cali 1955-62 when he acted as Chief Engineer for the regional autonomous corporation (see description below); he also headed two subsequent World Bank mission to the country. In the case of Peru, in addition to numerous missions for the World Bank, he was engaged in 1987-88 by the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) of Germany for pre-appraisal of a loan for rehabilitation of a large irrigation project in the Coast; however, despite several months of work, the project was cancelled owing to the ongoing political instability.

Mexico: Gulf Coast

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

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

The main reason for the current state of underdevelopment is the 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 low carrying 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 is a limit to the size of landholding - generally not more than 10 or 20 ha.

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

An earlier project in the region called “Plan Chontalpa” was initiated in 1966 with financial assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank. It covered 75,000 ha. The project had mixed success, apparently due to inadequate planning for flood control and drainage.

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

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

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

Colombia: Upper Cauca Valley

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

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

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

Cali in 1955 was a city of about 250,000. Today its population exceeds 1,600,000. Like many other Latin American cities, the growth of Cali has been 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 which however has to be supplemented by diking as at Cali. Poor drainage of the lower-lying areas also needs further attention. Near the town of Buga, a sizeable lake, which serves as a refuge for migratory birds, needs improvement and preservation. See Map 3.

Further development of the valley needs further detailed studies which become more complex than heretofore owing to competing demands for water, the need to protect water quality and environmental concerns. The latter include the bird refuge and the disposal of wastes from agricultural fertilizers and 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 needs upgrading in the medium and long term. Much land is still in low-intensive cattle production, and the large percentage in sugarcane, a high-volume water consumer, should be lowered. The major international agricultural research center CIAT (Centro Internacional para la Agricultura Tropical), which is in the Upper Cauca Valley, could assist in determining the manner and timing of changes in the cropping pattern.

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

Ecuador: Lower Guayas Valley

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

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

The Comision de Estudios para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca de Guayas (CEDEGE) has been active since about 1970. In the early 1970s, CEDEGE's directors promoted the construction of the Daule-Peripa dam, which they claimed would bring great benefit to the Lower Guayas Valley and to the adjoining but distant Santa Helena peninsula where rainfall is only about 200 mm (compares with about 1500 mm in the Lower Guayas). CEDEGE applied to the World Bank for the financing of the Daule-Peripa dam but was turned down on the grounds that it would be far more beneficial to concentrate on the drainage and flood control problems of the Lower Guayas Valley and that, at a later stage, water for supplemental irrigation could be obtained from groundwater. However, CEDEGE persisted and was able to obtain financing for Daule-Peripa from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Daule-Peripa dam was completed but the drainage and flooding continued to be serious. The continued construction of major roads traversing the region, built without consideration of drainage needs, have exacerbated the drainage problems. The clearing of important mangrove forests for construction of shrimp ponds presents another serious environmental problem.

In 1987, based on a grant from the Government of the Netherlands, a consulting firm of that nationality began work on a feasibility study. Time had been lost during the preceding years owing to disagreements between 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; the delay was due in part to environmental concerns which led to the preparation of an environmental impact statement.

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

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

Brazil: The Northeast

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

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

In the past, families would leave the region at times of drought to work on rubber-tree tapping in the Amazon jungle or would migrate to the industrial cities of the south such as Sao Paulo. These exits are no longer available and, instead, poor peasants drift to the cities and towns of the region 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 for energy generation but with beneficial side-effects through flood control and irrigation. The World Bank has financed a polder-type project in the delta of the Sao Francisco River. The author visited the region in 1979 on behalf of the OAS when he prepared terms of reference for long-range studies of the Sao Francisco River basin. He was told at the time that the goal was to achieve 819,000 ha of irrigation by the year 2000, although a more realistic goal would be 500,000 ha.

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

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

All of the agencies listed in the table have a strong interest in the development of Brazil's Northeast. The UNDP, in particular, should be invited to play a key role in guiding and financing the numerous studies and negotiations 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) has some (limited) value but is almost fully exploited. On the border between the Sierra and the Selva, is found a zone devoted to cultivation of coca, a primary source of the cocaine ending up on the streets of the cities of the United States.

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

Correction of this condition, and the arrest of further deterioration requires: (a) a program of rehabilitation to remove the most important bottlenecks of infrastructure (basically drainage works); and (b) the establishment of irrigation-district authorities in rehabilitated areas in order to preserve the effectiveness of past investments and carry out effective operation and maintenance.

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

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

2. Removing the uncertainties that still remain with respect to land reform which has severely reduced the role of private enterprise.

3. Improving standards of the Banco Agrario del Peru whereby negative interest rates provide windfall profits to a privileged few.

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

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

Pressure has most likely continued from local interests for construction of mammoth projects for trans-Andean water diversions. An example is the long-debated Majes project that would presumably benefit lands adjacent to the city of Arequipa. Such pressures should be resisted as the priority for Peru should be to rehabilitate and secure the proper operation and use of its existing irrigation projects.

The World Bank in the mid-1970s provided some assistance to Peru in the form of technical assistance for study of a major hydroelectric complex in the Andes Mountains east of Lima and which would be of benefit as well to the city of Lima for augmentation of its domestic water supply.

Peru is important to the United States for several reasons:

· It is a major source of drugs. Its poor social and economic conditions, which have been exploited by the Shining Path guerrillas, have been a source of serious political instability in the hemisphere.

· It could be a major market for U.S. exports.

Assistance to Peru in the water-resources field could materially help the country solve its social and economic problems. It is likely that 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 with respect to water-related problems of the Santiago region. Competition for scarce water was arising between use for domestic water supply and for irrigation. Domestic sewage was being used for irrigation and this was causing health problems.

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

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

Colombia: Lower Cauca/Magdalena Valleys

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

Some such development, although limited thus far, has already taken place not far from the Caribbean port cities of Barranquilla, Cartagena and 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 region and obtained some technical assistance from the Netherlands Government for this purpose. On that occasion, the World Bank also sent a mission, headed by the author.

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

Other Regions

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

Brazil: The Pantanal

This vast wetland of 469,000 km2 has an extent about 40 times that of the Everglades! Half of the Pantanal is in a remote southwestern comer of Brazil, with the other half in Paraguay (see Map 7). The Pantanal has rich resources in terms of wildlife, cattle, minerals and potentially highly productive agriculture and is astride of a proposed pipeline linking important natural-gas fields in Bolivia with the industrial centers of Brazil.

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

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 sizeable lakes with a total area of 75,000 ha.

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

Venezuela, The Orinoco River Delta

The Orinoco, one of South America's great rivers, has high potential for hydroelectricity and, ultimately, for agriculture. But it is sparsely populated and should not therefore have priority for the present. On the other hand, there is little doubt that studies leading to long-range properly-phased sustainable development should continue to be pursued for which advice should be obtainable from various international agencies such as the UNDP and FAO.

The Caribbean

Areas and the affected populations are generally small. The Dominican Republic may be an exception. A sizeable irrigation project already exists - the Yaque del Norte - and development is proposed as well for the eastern part of the republic - the Yuna River basin. The key to sustainable and economic development appears to be the marketing of high-value crops to Puerto Rico and to the United States. Cuba has extensive irrigated zones and may be of interest once normal international relations are achieved.

Central America, The Caribbean Coast

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

Central America, Urban Regions

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

Holistic Approach to Planning

Planning of large water-resource development schemes, whether new ones or modification of existing ones, is a complex process. Complexities are caused not only by increased population pressures and scarcity of resources. Cultural and environmental factors now weight heavily - much more than say 40 or 50 years ago.

A holistic approach to planning is now needed (Kirpich 1993) which considers all relevant factors. While time consuming, such an approach is now essential. Of course, the judgement of the planner must be exercised to select the relevant factors, while giving less weight to the less relevant ones.


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

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

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

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

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

Kirpich, P.Z. 1993. Holistic Approach to Irrigation Management in 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 flood control and drainage project. Pp. 275-289 in Proceedings of the Irrigation and Drainage sessions of Water Forum '92, American Society of Civil Engineers, New York.

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. American Society 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 agricultural potential obtainable primarily through water-control works (some combination of works for flood control, drainage and irrigation) plus management (of the water-control works, of agricultural support services and of institutional changes including land-ownership regulations).

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

Hydrometeorological Networks and Data Management for Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America

Medardo Molina, Eladio Zárate and Nabil Kawas1

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 Hydrological Networks of the Central American Isthmus and their ability to provide information for the management of Disasters Induced by Atmospheric Phenomena-(DIAP).

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

This paper presents:

1. A probabilistic analysis of the occurrence of hurricanes, tropical storms and floods, assuming a Poisson distribution for the quantitative estimate of the risks these events present for the Isthmus.

2. A description of the present ability of the network to observe the atmospheric phenomena in Central America, including their geographical and temporal distribution.

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

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

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

6. Conclusions and recommendations.


2.1. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in Central America

From 1887 to 1993, 33 hurricanes and 34 tropical storms have passed over the Isthmus (Lizano, 1993; Belize, 1993). The damages caused by these 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 economic losses.

To have a probabilistic idea of the occurrence of these events, 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 zero hurricanes 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 tropical storms, is 27.2% and 26.5% respectively. On the other hand, if we consider the occurrence of either one of these events, the probability of zero events is 48.7% and the probability of observing one or more events is 51.3% Because the damages caused by either one of these storms are always disastrous, we can see that the economic and social risks presented by these events are very high.

2.2. Floods in Central America

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

The following table shows some figures of interest.



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, El Salvador 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 flood probabilities can be estimated:


# of events/year

Costa Rica

El Salvador






































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

For example, the November 4, 1966 floods in Panama caused 60 deaths, 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 Salvador produced at least three deaths and great damage to the infrastructure of the area. In Costa Rica, because it is the most vulnerable, the number of deaths is also 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 dissipate in different lengths of time. This characteristic is called the temporal scale of the phenomena. The other characteristic is that each phenomenon has its own geographic dimension, which is called the geographical scale.

If we apply these two characteristics, an isolated storm-cloud would have a temporal scale of about two hours and a geographical scale of a few square kilometers; but a hurricane's temporal scale includes several days, even weeks, and its special geographical scale includes thousands of square kilometers. A list of the phenomena affecting the Isthmus and relation to their temporal and geographical scale follows:




Drought in the whole Isthmus, caused by “El Niño”

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 hydrometeorological networks should respond to the international need to observe large phenomena such as El Niño, hurricanes, cold fronts and at the same time, detect promptly, any smaller local phenomenon, such as an electrical thunder storm. Thus, the observing hydrometeorological networks must be structured from the smallest to the largest phenomena, and the Isthmus should restructure its networks to quantify the phenomena according the their scale.

The following actions are recommended:

1. Redesign present networks transferring instrumentation from dense areas to lightly covered areas.

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

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

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

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

3.2. The Observation Networks

They allow for the timely detection of the atmospheric phenomena and their effects as time passes. These networks are composed of satellite image reception stations, radar, radio sound stations (upper air) and conventional and automatic surface stations. Each of these networks has a different function.

For example, high resolution satellite images can alert the Isthmus when a hurricane enters the Caribbean Sea. Coastal radars define in detail the hurricane's characteristics when it is still three hundred kilometers from the coast, while, at the same time, will show the detail behavior of the rain 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. The placement of instruments was based on logistic reasons or on special interest needs, which is why the first networks were installed along railroads, main highways and areas of hydroelectric or agriculture development (bananas). This resulted is, small areas being covered by dense networks while large, important areas remained uncovered. A brief description of each network follows.

A. Network of Meteorological Satellite Image Reception Stations

A meteorological satellite image reception station technology allows the largest geographical view. The image of the entire Isthmus and its surroundings can be obtained in a few minutes, and a vision of the earth's atmosphere takes about one hour. This network is the pillar of the weather watch of the Isthmus, because it allows the timely detection of atmospheric phenomena which could produce DIAPs. As of this date, only Panama has such a station. The rest of the countries receive photos by facsimile from the World Meteorological Center in Washington, D.C. These pictures have a poor resolution. FINNIDA Project (Finnida, 1993) is financing the installation in 1994, of two of these high resolution stations: one for Guatemala and the other for Costa Rica. The cost of this type of station is approximately $120,000.

B. Radar Network

Meteorological radar is an instrument to observe the atmosphere and is able to give detailed information up to a radius of 500 kilometers if there are no mountains in the way. This information is more accurate than that provided by satellite images. For example, radar provides a good approximation of the areas of heavy rainfall, thunder storms, winds, and other phenomena. Except for the radar installed in Belize, the rest of the Isthmus is unprotected in this way. The minimum ideal network in the Isthmus to track hurricanes, tropical storms in both oceans and cold fronts from the north, would be stations located in Panama, Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, Pacific Coast of 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, and other variables from ground level up to 30 kilometers are very important for forecasting and tracking of severe atmospheric conditions. In the case of Central America, these measures are valid around a radius of 300 kilometers. There are four of these stations in the Isthmus, located in Balboa, Panama, San Jose, Costa Rica, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Guatemala City. FINNIDA Project provided new equipment for Costa Rica and will install a similar one in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. However, the old stations of Panama, Honduras y Guatemala and the new ones required for Panama and Belize, have no financing. The cost of a equipment is approximately $300,000.

D. Conventional and Intelligent Surface Hydrometeorological Network

These are the networks of the densest concentration in the area. They are on the ground, measuring atmospheric variables highly affected by physiography, and they depict conditions for about ten square kilometers.

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

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

E. Real Time Telemetric Networks

“Real Time” means immediate access, in the decision-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 and Costa Rica have installed telemetric networks in watersheds that produce hydroelectrical power. The rest of the Isthmus is unprotected for lack of these stations.

F. Oceanic Data Network

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


4.1. CEMET

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

4.2. Satellite-based Telecommunications System

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


5.1. Disaster Prevention

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

· Organization
· Resources
· Communications
· Strategies for Action.
The emergency preparedness agencies of each country are in charge of implementing these activities. The role of the meteorological services is to provide information that enables the disaster preparedness crew to design their strategies before the emergency arises. This is done through forecastings. Actions before the emergencies include: 1) alerting the population of the coming disaster and 2) explanations of how to protect their lives and property. The accuracy of the forecasting depends on the accuracy of the information, which relies on the density of the networks observing the meteorological and hydrological phenomena.

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

The information provided by the following systems is important:

· Images of Meteorological Satellites
· Radar
· Conventional Ground Stations
· Upper Air Radio Sounds
· Ships and Airplanes
The information provided by all these sources, for example, allowed Jamaica, during Hurricane Gilbert (Sept. 12, 1988), to have a relatively low 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 Plain mapping, stream flow analysis, and accurate knowledge of watershed and rainfall characteristics. The Isthmus doesn't have a complete flood prevention system, but DANIDA (Danida, 1993), is providing a flood-forecasting computer software and 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 in their flood-prone areas. FINNIDA Project, in this respect, has limited its actions to installing and training in the hydrograph simulation model known as HEC1 and the water surface profiles model known as HEC2.

5.2. International Cooperation

Because a disaster has no boundaries and can cover very large regions as in the case of a hurricane, international cooperation in disaster prevention is essential. Fortunately, the Central American region belongs to a worldwide meteorological networks known as World Weather Watch and the Global Telecommunication System (GTS), which provide instantaneous and systematic exchange of meteorological information.

Concerning floods, expectations are centered on DANIDA Project, this will hopefully, be complemented with a telemetric system that permits monitoring of flood events.

On the other hand, the United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction is committed to coordinating the efforts of Emergency Management Agencies.

Also, CEPREDENAC, Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America, is coordinating emergency activities and is based in Guatemala City. On the other hand, the Comité Regional de Recursos Hidraulicos (CRRH) based in Costa Rica, groups all the countries of the Isthmus and coordinates the actions of their water resources management and meteorological service agencies in data management, training, and research.

To conclude, we mention that the U.S. Weather Service, (Smith, 1989), has shown how loss of human lives due to hurricanes has been dramatically reduced (8,100 in 1900-1910, to 160 in 1980-1987) in spite of the increase of coastal populations (Florida: from less than one million to nine million during the 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 human resources, data-processing, information systems, computer technology, and international cooperation. We are indebted to W.M.O. for introducing this approach 30 years ago, which when properly applied is a means of disaster prevention. It allows for timely collection of pertinent information obtained from the right source. It also implies timely dissemination of processed information and that is what prevention is all about.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the management and processing of atmospheric data in Central America, is becoming more efficient thanks to the FINNIDA Project, which positively affect the regional disaster prevention measures.


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

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

3. Numerous International Development Agencies are engaged in projects to produce and disseminate meteorological information that will help reduce the frequency of the DIAPs.

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

5. However, because of the complexity of the geographical environment, the poor economic development, and the political and social problems 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 international community continue its support and assistance to the CA countries in their effort to produce reliable meteorological and hydrological information that will allow them more efficiently manage their DIAPs.


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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Danish Hydraulic Institute. Mathematical Modeling for Real Time Flood Forecasting and Flood Control in Central America, Preliminary Inception Report. Copenhagen, March, 1993.

8. FINNIDA, Project for the Improvement and Rehabilitation of Meteorological 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 Tormentas Tropicales en el Istmo Centroamericano. Universidad de Costa Rica (comunicación personal). 1993.

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

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

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

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

14. Rodríguez, Salvador. Inundaciones más Importantes en la República de Panamá. Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, (comunicación personal), Panamá, Setiembre, 1993.

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

16. World Meteorological Organization. GTS-DM. Expert Meeting on the Implementation and Operation of Satellite Based Telecommunication Systems. Final Report. Miami, Florida. October, 1992.

Water Management for the 21st Century

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, Suite 350, 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 resources can be anticipated as the world population expands. Competing and conflicting demands on water supply have raised serious concerns about the long-term reliability of our water resources. Traditional water systems are being stressed by increased demand from domestic, industrial, agricultural, and environmental users. In addition, physical, regulatory, and financial constraints further complicate our ability to meet future demands. Three components that will be required to adequately meet tomorrow's water demands include:

· Prudent Water Management
· Protection of Resources through Regulations
· Implementation of Innovative New Technologies.
Water Management

Due to the continued growth in demand upon our water resources throughout Florida, prudent water management practices have become, and will continue to be essential in maintaining these resources for domestic, industrial, agricultural and environmental needs. In most instances, the real issue is not lack of water, but rather conflicting and competing demands upon water management policies, infrastructure and agencies. Resolution of these demands is politically complex and sometimes conveys the impression that water management is inadequate or that inadequate water is available. Once this occurs, an urgent need often arises to identify new resources. This situation can be eliminated or deferred if existing resources are managed efficiently.

Prudent water management practices involve conserving existing resources (groundwater and surface water) and balancing them with sometimes overlooked resources such as seasonal floods or reclaimed water, regulating the use 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 has historically focused on flood control until recent years when a severe drought threatened water supplies and the quality of surface waters deteriorated to the point that wastewater treatment and effluent disposal practices had to be changed. Water levels in South Florida have been maintained with control structures throughout the drainage canal system. These canals recharge the surficial aquifer and eventually discharge to the Atlantic Ocean or Florida Bay. The Kissimmee River feeds Lake Okeechobee which, in turn, supplies water to the canal system and also to the Everglades National Park. Water levels in the canals are maintained by water released from Lake Okeechobee during dry months, combined with normal local rainfall which recharges the canals through surface run-off. Most of the available resource is lost to evaporation, seepage and ocean outfalls. Most of the wastewater effluent that was removed from surface waters is now discharged to deep injection wells at depths typically around 900 m. Because the surficial aquifer system cannot accommodate waters that fill the canal system during heavy Florida storm events, Water Management Districts prevent flooding by operating the canal system in a manner that allows this fresh water to pass to the ocean. This results in the loss of a valuable fresh water resource, at least a portion of which could possibly be put to better use if adequate storage could be made available at reasonable cost.

Water availability becomes a serious problem during periods of drought because of the stresses placed on the surficial aquifer in coastal areas. These withdrawals are often greater than the safe yield of the aquifer. Prolonged operation of systems in this manner creates saltwater intrusion which may 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 through April or May when there is less recharge and water demands are high because of the tourist season.

Water managers have learned from this experience and have now shifted their efforts to ensure that a reliable supply exists for all users throughout the year. One of their biggest concerns is that of convening the infrastructure that was constructed for flood control purposes into one that meets more challenging water demands of tomorrow. New management practices will require balancing production and management of ground and surface water resources when available. This will involve protection of the resources through regulation, possible construction of new surface reservoirs, and implementation of new technologies such as Aquifer Storage and Recovery.

Protection of Resources Through Regulation

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

Wellhead protection involves the designation and classification of areas around a well or wellfield which limit activities that could potentially contaminate or threaten the resource. This policy has been in effect in South Florida since the mid-1980s and has been very successful in protecting wellfield areas. Gross contamination resulting in the loss of a portion of a wellfield, or a complete wellfield, has been greatly reduced as a result of wellhead protection practices.

Safe yield limits for wellfields are established and enforced by the water management districts. Safe yield is generally defined as the volume of water that a wellfield or aquifer can produce that will not result in unacceptable adverse effects or degradation of the supply. Degradation may include saltwater intrusion or contamination by surficial sources such as petroleum products.

One of the most significant regulatory impacts for water resource management is consistent and equitable enforcement of current regulations to implement water management policy. This involves frequent workshops between the different regulators (internal or external) to assure that policy enforcement is being applied consistently among all users.

Florida has complex water management challenges, and conflicting, competing demands for available water supplies. A system of water management has been developed to address these challenges. This system is widely regarded as being one of the best such systems in the United States, including a legal framework, governmental organization, policies, plans and practices that work together to address water supply and water quality challenges.

Implementation of Innovative Technologies

Development of innovative technologies can facilitate improvements in water management and thereby ease political and economic stresses commonly associated with complex water supply issues. New ways of operating old systems must be considered to more efficiently utilize our natural resources. Some of these new technologies include effluent treatment by flow through wetlands, effluent reuse, stormwater retention and treatment in ponds at each new development site, membrane treatment of brackish water; saltwater intrusion barriers with reclaimed water; aquifer recharge, and Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR). Each of these technologies should be considered for their cost effectiveness and environmental benefits.

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

Originally, ASR systems were designed to store potable water but the concept has since been expanded in scope to incorporate storage of untreated ground water, surface water, and reclaimed water. Typical ASR wells may 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 the hydraulic characteristics of the receiving zones, which may be effectively unlimited. These systems have many benefits over conventional storage techniques, however, the greatest benefits are the ability to provide long term storage at a much lower cost with greater flexibility. In Florida, storage is provided in brackish, limestone portions of the upper Floridan Aquifer System. Some of the other benefits are listed below:

· Seasonal storage
· Emergency storage
· Prevention of saltwater intrusion
· Nutrient reduction in agricultural runoff
· Reduction in concentration of disinfection byproducts
· Deferred expansion of water supply/treatment facilities
· Reclaimed water storage for reuse
· Reduction of evapotranspiration and seepage losses
· Minimal above ground land requirements for storage
· Improved reliability and flexibility of water supply system
· Enhanced water management efficiency
· Reduced environmental impacts
· Maintain distribution system flows and pressures
ASR has been combined with existing water treatment facilities in Florida to better manage the resource and is now being considered by the South Florida Water Management District for use with surface water reservoirs as an improved means for managing storm water run-off.

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

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

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

· Is there a suitable storage zone? Site specific evaluation and testing is required to confirm ASR feasibility.

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


Within the United States, Florida and California are often perceived as leading the development and implementation of new technologies and regulatory practices in water management as well as other areas. Many recognize Florida's Water Management District system, and the water laws and regulations comprising the backbone of this system, as unequaled in the United States. Rapid growth and associated increasing water demands have placed considerable stress upon valued natural systems, the protection of which will require enlightened water management by urban, agricultural and industrial interests. Prudent water management practices, combined with appropriate regulations and their enforcement, can help to achieve broad water management objectives. However innovative technologies such as Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) offer a great opportunity to make more efficient use of available water resources to meet future needs, while also protecting the environment and substantially reducing costs.

Many of the water management practices and technologies that have been developed and applied in Florida may also be useful for consideration to address water management needs in Central and South America. In particular, population growth and increasing demands for water, combined with seasonal variability in supply and demand, may provide an excellent opportunity for ASR application to meet future needs while reducing costs and protecting valued natural ecosystems.

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

Haraldo Otero-Torres and María Flores de Otero1

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


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

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

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), is the agency in charge of the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the water supply and wastewater collection and treatment systems. PRASA's operation are subject to obtaining a water use permit (in volume) from the Department of Natural Resources and a construction permit from the Environmental Quality Board. It also meets the standards of the Department of Health (which oversees the quality of the water being distributed), and has to comply with the Master Plan of the Planning Board. A NPDES permit from EPA Region II, is necessary as well.

To comply with the U.S. Clean Water Act, PRASA prepared a Comprehensive Water Quality Management Plan for Puerto Rico that proposed the regionalization of the sewerage systems committing in this objective all its economical and human resources, disregarding at the same time the planning, operation, and maintenance of the water supply. On the other hand, the frequent violations of sewerage treatment plants (in many cases overloaded the hydrologically and organically parameter limits, set already by the NPDES discharge permits) led to fines and the ultimate “imprisonment” of a high percentage of them.

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

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

Appropriate Technologies of Wastewater Treatment for Sustainable Development

Ernesto Pérez, P.E.1

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


Sustainable development has been defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development as that development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In “Our Own Agenda” the Latin American Caribbean Commission on Development and Environment challenges present generations to design a strategy of development in harmony with nature that meets the needs of present and future generations. In other words, Sustainable development requires the adoption of a technology that also meets the basic needs of the population in the areas of health, food and shelter.

Wastewater treatment technologies can be designed “in harmony” within this Sustainable development concept. They can provide low cost sanitation and environmental protection while providing beneficial uses for water reuse. These technologies are mainly natural systems: aquatic and terrestrial. These technologies are in existence in United States of America, primarily in small towns or where water reuse is a priority. These appropriate technologies can be suitable for many developing countries and for similar several reasons:

1. Forestation, agriculture, livestock and groundwater recharge are the principal environmental problems associated with the land in Latin America and other developing countries. According to “Our Own Agenda” Report: In South America forty-seven percent of the pasture soil are loosing their fertility. Deforestation reached 0.61 per cent annually for Latin America and the Caribbean and 1.6 percent annually for Central America. The potential for irrigation is 20 million hectares while there are six million hectares under irrigation. Thirty percent of the irrigated land cannot be used because of salinity.

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

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

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

This presentation focuses on appropriate wastewater treatment technologies based on the principle of Sustainable development for Latin America and other developing countries and the recommendation of “Our Own Agenda” of restructuring public expenditures to give priority to the services of low cost and high multiplying effect.


Natural systems (aquatic and terrestrial) have been in use for a number of years in United States of America. They are of two of the three main categories of wastewater treatment systems available to treat domestic waste. In addition to natural systems, mechanical systems do have their use where primarily land suitability and quantity is restricted. Figure 1 presents a summary of these systems.

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

Facultative lagoons are the most common form of lagoons currently in use. The water layer near the surface is aerobic while the bottom layer which includes sludge deposits is anaerobic. The intermediate layer is aerobic near the top, and anaerobic near the bottom, and termed the facultative zone. The main advantage of the facultative lagoon is its low cost of operation and maintenance as well as the low technical operational requirements. Aerated Lagoons are smaller and deeper than facultative lagoons. These systems evolved from stabilization ponds when aeration devices were added to counteract odors arising from septic conditions. The aeration devices can be mechanical or diffused air systems. The advantage of the aerated lagoon is less land requirement; however, it introduces mechanical devices which will require higher technical manpower requirement. The chief disadvantage of lagoons is high effluent solids which can exceed 100 mg/l. Hydrograph Controlled Release (HCR) lagoons are a recent innovative process. In this system, wastewater is discharged only during periods when the stream flow is adequate to prevent water quality degradation. When stream conditions prohibit discharge, wastewater is accumulated in a storage lagoon.

Constructed wetlands, aquacultures, and sand filters have 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 advantage is to provide a treatment beyond secondary where required.

Constructed Wetlands have been utilized during the past few years in two designs, free-water surface (FWS), and subsurface flow (SF). Both systems utilize plants' roots to provide for attached bacteria growth and oxygen transfer. Bacteria do the bulk of the work in these systems although there is some nitrogen uptake by the plants. The FWS system more closely approximates a natural wetland. Typically, these systems are long, narrow basins with depths less than 2 feet, planted with typical vegetation such as bulrush or cattails. SF systems use a gravel or sand medium approximately eighteen inches deep through which the wastewater flows.

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

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

Terrestrial systems are represented by slow-rate, overland flow, and rapid infiltration. Their individual contribution to sustainable development, in addition to wastewater treatment and low maintenance cost 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 and overland flow require vegetation. Slow-rate, subsurface infiltration, and usually rapid infiltration are zero discharge systems. Each system has different constraints regarding soil permeability.

Although slow rate systems are the most costly systems of the natural systems their advantage is the positive impact on sustainable development. In addition of treating wastewater they provide an economic return from the reuse of water and nutrients to produce marketable crops for some agriculture products and livestock, and reforestation. In slow-rate systems, either primary or secondary wastewater is applied at a controlled rate to a vegetated land surface of moderate to slow permeability. Application is by means of either sprinklers or flooding of furrows. Wastewater is treated as it passes through the soil by filtration, adsorption, ion exchange, precipitation, microbial action, and plant uptake. Vegetation is a critical component of the process and serves to extract nutrients, reduce erosion, and maintain soil permeability.

Overland Flow systems is a land application method of wastewater treatment with point discharge to a surface water. Its main contribution toward sustainable development would be its low maintenance and low technical manpower requirements when nitrogen removal is required in very low permeable soils. Wastewater is applied intermittently across the top of terraces and allowed to sheet flow over the vegetated surface to the runoff collection channel. Treatment is achieved primarily through sedimentation, filtration, and biochemical activity as the wastewater flows through the vegetation on the terraced slope. Loading rates and cycles are designed to maintain active microorganism growth on the soil. The rate and length of application is controlled to minimize severe anaerobic conditions and the resting period should be long enough to prevent surface ponding, yet short enough to keep the microorganisms in an active state.

In rapid infiltration systems most of the applied wastewater percolates through the soil, and the treated effluent drains naturally to surface waters or joins the ground water. Rapid infiltration contributes to sustainable development by providing groundwater recharge as well as low cost and low manpower technical required maintenance wastewater treatment. The applied soils are moderately and highly permeable. The wastewater is applied by spreading in basins or by sprinkling as is treated as it travels through the soil. Vegetation is not necessary but does not cause a problem either. The major treatment goal is conversion of ammonia nitrogen to nitrate nitrogen prior to discharge to receiving water.

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

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



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


The last three columns, NH3 (ammonia conversion), TP (total phosphorus), and TN (total nitrogen), show the efficiency of some of the systems to produce advanced waste treatment. An ammonia limit of 2 or less is consistently achievable by six of the systems; mechanical, sand filters, and the land application systems. Constructed wetland and aquaculture systems have shown promise in providing low ammonia effluents, but currently lack a concrete design which 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 total nitrogen limit eliminates all but two options; mechanical or slow rate. If groundwater contamination is not a risk, rapid infiltration will also be an available.

Treatment performance is the critical factor in determining process viability. Though mechanical systems are shown as capable of meeting all treatment performance criteria depicted, this performance will require additional expenditures of initial capital cost and operation and maintenance; primarily of chemicals and tanks. The costs for these additions are not included in the cost data presented below.


Figure 3 compares manpower requirements for mechanical and lagoon systems of 1 mgd capacity. These figures were derived from tables in the EPA publication Estimating Staffing for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facilities. The simplicity of operations for lagoon systems is reflected in manpower needs of approximately half that needed in a mechanical system.


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

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



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 costs were obtained from the referenced manual in the next section. Costs have been indexed to EPA's Operation, Maintenance and Repair Index of Direct Cost for the first quarter of 1993 (4.3). Costs included are labor, energy, chemicals, and materials such as replacement equipment and parts.


All costs are presented in dollars per thousand gallons of treated wastewater. The O&M cost for mechanical systems is significantly larger than any of the other systems particularly at the smaller flow. The cost for harvesting of aquaculture systems is not included. This could be a significant 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 gallons per day. Cost data for this graph was obtained from the EPA publication, Innovative and Alternative Technology Assessment Manual, with the exception of wetland and aquaculture data, which was obtained from more recent sources. All costs were inflated to March, 1993 (ENR CCI 5100).


All costs exclude the cost of land. All natural systems have a facultative lagoon as a primary unit. The cost for chlorination/dechlorination is included for all systems except slow rate and rapid infiltration. The cost of liners is not included for any of the aquatic systems.

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


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


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


Many communities around the world, in both the developed and developing world, are reaching the limits of their available water supplies; consequently, water reclamation and reuse has become an attractive option for conserving water. Figure 8 outlines the relative importance of the natural systems contributions toward sustainable development in addition to their role as a treatment process.


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

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

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

3. Reforestation, pasture and crop irrigation: Slow rate systems.

Costs and manpower requirements were discuss previously. Some of the reforestation, pasture and crop irrigation potential are shown on Figure 9. Specifically, slow rate systems can provide an economic return from the reuse of wastewater to irrigate marketable crops, reforestation and pasture for livestock. The crop is a critical component in the slow rate process. It removes nutrient, reduces erosion, maintains or increases infiltration rates, and produces revenues.




Revenue Producer

Water User

Nitrogen User

Moisture Tolerance























Reed Canary Grass










Tall Fescue
















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

One of the most critical steps in any reuse program is to assure health protection of the field workers and consumers. The principal infectious agents that may be present in wastewater are: pathogenic microorganisms and chemical constituents. Secondary treatment maybe acceptable for reuse application for such systems as irrigation of non-food crops. Also, the most important process for the destruction of microorganisms is disinfection by such methods as chlorine. Figure 10 presents typical survival times for potential 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 for irrigation of food crops is prohibited in some states, while others allow irrigation of food crops with reclaimed water only if the crop is to be processed and not eaten raw. The less stringent requirements are for irrigation of non-food crops. Figure 11 shows suggested guidelines for water reuse for categories critical for sustainable development in developing countries. For example, if food crops are surface irrigated such that there is no contact between the edible portion of the crop and the reclaimed water, a disinfected, secondary-treated effluent is acceptable. For crops that are eaten raw and not commercially processed water reuse is more restrictive and less economically attractive.



Types of Reuse


Reclaimed Water Quality

Reclaimed Water Monitoring

Setback Distances

Agricultural Reuse
· Food Crops Commercially Processed
· Orchards and Vineyards

· Secondary
· Disinfection

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

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2 residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable water supply wells
· 100 ft(30m) to areas accessible to public

· Pasture for milk* animals and livestock

· Secondary
· Disinfection

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

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2 residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable water supply wells
· 100 ft (30m) to areas accessible to public


· Secondary
· Disinfection

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

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· SS-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2 residual-continuous

· 300 ft(90m) to potable water supply wells
· 100 ft(30m) to areas accessible to public

· Food crops not commercially processed

· Secondary
· Filtration
· Disinfection

· pH = 6-9
· £10mg/l BOD
· £2 NTU
· No Detectable fecal coli per 100ml
· 1mg/l Cl2 residual min.

· pH-weekly
· BOD-weekly
· Turbidity-daily
· Coli.-daily
· Cl2 residual-continuous

· 50 ft(15m) to potable water supply wells

Groundwater Recharge

· Site specific and use dependent

· Site specific and use dependent

· Depends on treatment and use

· Site specific

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

* Milking animals should be prohibited from grazing for 15 days after irrigation ceases. A higher level of disinfection, to achieve 14 fecal coli/100 ml or less, should be provided if this waiting period is not adhered to.


Figure 12 is a depiction of the range of acres of land required per mgd of treatment capacity. All of natural systems include a facultative lagoon as a primary treatment unit. Slow rate systems require as much as 760 acres, while mechanical plants are the least land intensive with very small requirements. The high end of these ranges represents the worst case scenario. In making a preliminary evaluation, the midpoint of these ranges should be used. It will be necessary to make a better determination prior to final process selection.



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.


Critical, means that the limitation may be so unfavorable, that it may not be possible to construct that process. An example would 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, the additional cost would most likely render this option moot when compared with more viable options.

A rating of important signifies that the limitation, though not severe enough to preclude the process, may require significant increases in cost in order to overcome the limitation. By assigning a rating of slight/none, it is not intended that this limitation be overlooked. In general, this rating implies that the limitation can easily be overcome with little or no increase in cost.


EPA's innovative and alternative (I/A) program was very successful at promoting the development and application of more cost effective, environmentally sound wastewater treatment technologies. Through financial incentives, an active research and development effort, and an aggressive technology transfer program, the I/A program significantly advanced professional and public acceptance of natural systems.

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



This paper focused on appropriate technologies for wastewater treatment based on the principle of sustainable development. Treatment performance, costs and personnel requirements were compared competitively to conventional systems of wastewater treatment.

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

New World Dialogue on Environment and Development in the Western 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. Technology Assessment 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 Design Manual: 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. Planning Wastewater Management Facilities for Small Communities. Cincinnati, OH. EPA-600/8-80-030

EPA. 1990. Environmental Protection Agency. State Design Criteria for Wastewater Treatment Systems. Washington D.C. EPA 430/09-90-014

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

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

WPCF, 1990. Water Pollution Control Federation. Natural Systems 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 Systems for Waste Management and Treatment, by S.C. Reed, E.J. Middlebrooks, and R.W. Crites, McGraw Hill Book Co. NY, 1988.

* Water hyacinth systems are sensitive to freezing; year round use is restricted to the warm temperate climates of the southern states.


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 Small Communities.
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 publication of April, 1985: Technology Assessment of Intermittent Sand Filters.



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 Small Communities.

Sub-track: Economics and Financing

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

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 the developing world, new ways are needed to manage this valuable economic resource. Just because water is essential for human survival doesn't mean that governments must deliver all water services to the individual consumer. It is time to consider a change in the traditional role of government in the water sector from that 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 will outline the growing demands for water and the serious water problems this poses for developing countries and explain why it is time to consider changing government's role in the water sector. In the second part, I will outline the World Bank's new water policy that we developed to help address these problems.

Water Use and Future Demands

Human use of water has increased more than 35-fold over the past three centuries and 4-fold since 1940. Recently, water withdrawals have been increasing 4-8 percent per year, with the bulk of the demand arising in the developing world. Sixty-nine percent is used for agriculture, 23 percent for industry, and 8 percent for domestic uses. In Asia and Africa, over 85 percent of the water is used for agriculture. Average consumption rates vary widely with per 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 by 2025, and assuming steadily rising living standards, the demand for water will increase dramatically. Much of the population growth will be concentrated in urban areas. By the year 2000, seventeen of the world's twenty-four cities with over ten million inhabitants will be in developing countries, compared to only one in 1960. Feeding and providing cheap, clean and reliable water supplies to these numbers will place new demands on the world's water resources.

Food Production

One-third of the total world's food production comes from irrigated land. Since 1950, the irrigated area has grown by 2.5 times - a key factor 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 over one-half the increase in global food production. But it is now becoming increasingly difficult to sustain this expansion. Irrigable land and water are becoming increasingly scarce. Costs of new irrigation are rising rapidly and there are growing environmental concerns about large water projects and the overexploitation of groundwater. Although an estimated additional 110 million ha in developing countries are potentially irrigable, it is likely that location disadvantages, and high investment and operational costs will greatly reduce future expansion. In fact, the expansion of the area irrigated in the 1970s was at only about half the 1960's rate. Thus it appears that the strategy adopted by the World Bank and other international agencies, over the past twenty-five years, of expanding agricultural production by increasing irrigated area, high yielding varieties, and fertilizer use is no longer sustainable. New irrigated areas are not likely to be the major source of new food supplies; rather the focus must be on more efficient utilization of water in existing irrigation systems. This challenge is particularly acute in countries with mature water systems and where some of the water currently used for irrigation will need to be reallocated to higher valued uses.

Domestic and Industrial Uses

With regard to domestic needs, about 1 billion people in developing countries do not have access to potable water, particularly the rural poor, and 1.7 billion have inadequate sanitation facilities. As a result waterborne diseases, which constitute 80 percent of all diseases in developing countries, contaminated water impose a huge burden on many countries. Unsafe water is implicated in the deaths of more than 3 million people, mostly children, from diarrhea and causes about 900 million episodes of illness each year. A safe water supply is thus literally a life and death issue. Improving access to water and sanitation makes good economic sense. For example, in just the first ten weeks of the cholera epidemic in Peru, losses from reduced agricultural exports and tourism were estimated at $1 billion - more than three times the amount that the country had invested in water supply and sanitation services in the 1980s.

Box: 1. Increasing Costs of Water Supply

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

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

Shenyang (China): The cost of new water supplies would rise between 1988 and 2000 from $0.04 to $0.11 per cubic meter, almost a 200 percent increase. The main reason is that groundwater from the Hun Valley Alluvium, the current water source, has to be rejected as a source of potable water for reasons of water quality. As a result, water will have to be conveyed to Shenyang by gravity from a surface source 51 kilometers from the city. In Yingkuo, the AIC of water diverted from the nearby Daliao River is about $0.16 per cubic meter. However, because of the heavy pollution, this source cannot be used for domestic purposes. As a result, water is currently being transported into the city from the more distant Bi Liu River at a cost of $0.30 per cubic meter.

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

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

* Costs exclude treatment and distribution.

The time devoted to fetching water for domestic use often represents a heavy cost for rural households and imposes a terrible burden on women. 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 a Mozambique village, a water supply project reduced the average time that women spent collecting water from 120 to 25 minutes a day. The time saved can be spent on better child care, food production, and other economic activities.

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

Water Quality Requirements

Besides supplying water to domestic, industrial and agricultural users, countries are increasingly faced with major environmental problems related to the management of water resources. For example, many fisheries and wetlands depend on continuous river flows of reasonable quality and are threatened by growing water withdrawals. Currently, in numerous countries, the quantities and qualities of water being allocated for instream and flooding uses are inadequate to sustain valuable water dependent ecosystems.

Moreover, in many places, groundwater resources are seriously at risk from overexploitation and contamination by urban and agricultural pollutants and salt water intrusion. In the case of non-renewable groundwater, greater attention needs to be given to possible future uses for these resources before they become exhausted or polluted. There are cases where non-renewable groundwater that could be an important source of water for future domestic or industrial use is currently being pumped to irrigate low-valued crops. Where the over pumping involves international or interstate aquifers, managing the water extraction becomes a difficult political task. For example, Saudi Arabia's uses groundwater for irrigation from the same aquifer that Jordan would like to save for 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 irrigated agriculture, which accounts for 19 percent of exports, and those of industry and the population. Jordan's economy has been transformed since the early 1950s, when its population was only 0.6 million, with agriculture largely confined to rainfed farming and livestock raising. Population is currently 3.2 million, increasing at 3.8 percent per annum, and increasing urbanization (currently 70 percent of the population) and rising incomes have brought about increasing demands for water. Approximately 48,500 hectares have been brought under irrigation in the Jordan Valley, the northern highlands, and the Disi wells area in south-east Jordan. This has raised increasing concerns about the balance of water 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, excluding fossil aquifers, is estimated at about 356Mm3 per year. Surface water resources are estimated at 540Mm³ per year. Present surface water consumption is estimated at 336Mm3 per year, of which almost all is used for irrigation. The topography and geological features of the valleys have required construction of expensive storage facilities to use surface water effectively. The strategy in the past has been to use surface water principally for irrigation and groundwater for both M&I and irrigation. This strategy has been rational given the better quality of groundwater and its concentration in the uplands where the majority of the population live. However, water scarcities are such that this strategy is being modified.

Municipal and industrial (M&I) water currently accounts for about 25 percent of total water use, and water consumption is modest for a country with Jordan's per capita income. Water is metered and charges are high by the region's standards. However, as the population is expected to increase from 3.2 million in 1990 to 7.4 million in 2015, even with modest consumption rates, M&I water demand is expected to increase so that by 2015, it will account for about 40 percent of total water demand. In response to the growing scarcity, irrigation is now done by sprinkler and drip irrigation pressure pipe systems that have largely replaced surface irrigation.

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

Water planning strategies in the 1980s envisaged using all the water from the proposed Wahdeh dam for irrigation, permitting an expansion of irrigated area in the Jordan Valley. Licenses were also granted for development of the Disi aquifer for irrigated agriculture. Increasing awareness by the government of water scarcities, however, brought about a revision of this strategy. It was realized that the Disi aquifer should be regarded as a strategic 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 of the country. An additional complication arises because the Disi aquifer is also being mined for irrigation by Saudi Arabia. Thus, this source of future M&I water may only be saved through an international agreement between Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

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

Water Management Problems

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

Let me briefly summarize the current weakness in water management practices that have caused misallocation, pollution, and waste of water resources:

· Fragmented water resources management (Box 3).

· Excessive reliance on over-extended governmental agencies lacking the proper incentive structure.

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

· Inadequate coordination of international and interstate water resource use and development.

· Underpricing of water and lack of cost recovery.

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

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

Box: 3. Fragmented Water Resources Management: Examples from South India

Over-development of water resources has already occurred in a number of countries primarily due to fragmented decision-making. One example is provided by the Chittar River in South India. Its highly variable flows have traditionally been diverted at many points into small reservoirs (tanks) used to irrigate the main rice crop, following monsoon rains. Diversion channels are large to accommodate flood flows. Thus, when a storage dam was constructed, the uppermost channel was able to absorb essentially all the regulated flow. The upper tanks now tend to remain full throughout the year, concentrating benefits and adding to evaporation losses. The more extensive lower areas have largely reverted to uncertain rainfed cultivation. Construction of the storage dam without adequate considerations of downstream users and of the storage capacity already m the basin is a good example of how individual project development in isolation can cause significant economic losses.

The construction of the Sathanur Dam in Tamil Nadu on the Ponnair River to serve a left bank command area deprived the traditional and production delta areas of irrigation water. The rights of downstream irrigators are recognized in the dam operating rules, but most of the regulated flow below the dam is diverted into the upper channels, depriving those lower down. Losses have greatly increased in the wide sandy bed, and no surface water has reached the sea for twenty or more years. Continued spills in about 50 percent of all years were used to justify subsequent construction of the right bank irrigation command, further aggravating shortages in the delta and leading to endless conflict between the two Sathanur commands. Moreover, additional storage dams on upstream tributaries are adding to evaporation losses in what was already fully developed basin. Irrigation intensities in the productive delta have been further affected, and the Sathanur command areas m turn are suffering. High return cropping is replaced by cultivation on inherently less productive lands, served by tributaries that are inherently more variable than was the main river previously.

The Amaravarthy River is a tributary of the Cauvery which is the most disputed major river in India. In the absence of Cauvery agreement, Kamataka (the upstream riparian state) has steadily developed massive irrigation schemes, depriving the delta (Tamil Nadu's rice bowl) of its accustomed supplies. Moreover, Tamil Nadu has been developing the Amaravarthy. As at Santhanur, releases are made from the Amaravarthy Dam for the traditional areas, but these areas are far downstream, and substitution of regulated flows has been encouraged the development of private pumps along the river bank. New electric connections have now been banned, but little can be done to control illegal connections or diesel pump, and little water now reaches the lower command areas, let alone the Cauvery. Finally, new storage dams are being constructed on tributaries both in Kerela and Tamil Nadu, further depriving not only the old lands 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 and problems of government failure, many countries, as well as international agencies such as the World Bank, have taken a critical look at their activities in the water resources sector. For the World Bank, it resulted in a new water resources management policy that was approved by the World Bank Board of Directors on May 25, 1993 and published in September, 1993. This was the culmination of a process that started officially with a June 1991 workshop involving representatives from many borrowing and donor countries. This workshop identified major issues that the participants thought should be addressed in the water policy. They were especially concerned about:

· intersectoral water allocation and pricing issues.
· environmental and health problems, and
· international and interstate water resources conflicts.
As you would expect, all of these issues have been addressed in the Bank water policy along with a number of additional concerns. The policy has been revised extensively based on comments from both within and outside the Bank. Reviewers include UNDP, FAO, UNEP, and WHO, as well as NGOs from developing and developed countries.

At the core of the new policy is the adoption of a comprehensive management framework which calls for water to be treated as an economic good. It recommends a more decentralized system of service delivery, greater reliance on pricing, and financial autonomous service entities, along with fuller participation of water users in the management of water resource systems. It encourages countries to develop national water strategies with coherent and consistent policies and regulations across sectors. Let me briefly underline the main features:

· Countries need to develop a comprehensive analytical framework for water resources management that is suitable for a country's needs, resources and capabilities. Such a framework will allow the incorporation of cross-sectoral and environmental considerations in the design of investments and policies, by recognizing the interactions between the various elements of a river basin's ecosystem.

· Countries should place greater emphasis on incentives for efficient water use and on financial accountability of water entities. They should increase the reliance on pricing as a management device which reflects resource scarcity and encourages efficient utilization of the resource.

· Governments will need to establish a strong legal and regulatory framework for dealing with the pricing, monopoly organizations, environmental protection, and other aspects of water management which are not adequately handled by unrestrained market forces.

· Governments need to decentralize water service delivery responsibilities to the private sector, to financially autonomous entities, and to community organizations, such as water user associations.

· Countries should encourage the participation of stakeholders in planning, designing, implementing, and managing of water resource activities.

· Governments must take on an active role in protecting, enhancing, and restoring water quality and water dependent ecosystems, and to abate water pollution.

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

· The Bank will be more proactive in helping countries resolve international water resources issues and in sharing information concerning these water resources (Box 4).

Box 4: The Indus Waters Treaty

When the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, the political boundary abruptly cut off two irrigation canal systems of Pakistan from their source in India. The dispute started in 1948, when India stopped the supplies and claimed propriety rights over the waters flowing through its territory. In 1951 the former chairman of the TVA warned that the dispute was dangerous and suggested that the World Bank help the countries to develop the Indus system. The Bank President promptly offered assistance, and the delegations from the two countries met in Washington in May 1952 to prepare a joint plan. They differed too sharply in their views, however, to pursue joint planning. The Bank suggested that each side should present a plan of its own. Again, their plans were too far apart to be reconciled. They agreed, however, to the Bank's offer to present its own proposal.

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

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

The next four years of negotiations to reconcile differences on several issues were difficult. During this time, the Bank was also able to mobilize the support of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States for financial assistance. Thus, after long, intensive, and sensitive discussions, the Indus Water Treaty was finally signed on September 19, 1960.

The Bank's success was due to its recognized technical expertise and neutrality along with its ability to provide financial assistance. The Indus Waters Treaty is a landmark in the Bank's role as an international mediator. It suggest both the difficulty of negotiation agreements and the need for greater involvement of international agencies, such as the Bank, in helping countries negotiate agreements for managing international water resources.

World Bank's Lending and Future Financial Needs

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

Yet the financial requirements to meet future demands for irrigation, hydropower, water supply and sanitation investments in development countries, estimated to be US$600-700 billion over the next decade, are much larger than the Bank's lending capacities. Thus, the Bank will only be able to finance a small share of the demands. A greater part of the capital will have to come from water users themselves. This implies that the much greater emphasis on cost recovery, financial accountability, user participation, and private sector involvement, promoted in the new Bank policy, will be absolutely necessary if countries are to meet their domestic water and food supply needs in the next century.


This is an ambitious agenda. In most countries its implementation will be gradual, dealing first with priority issues which differ from country to country. Programs need to be tailored to the institutional capacity of the country. In many cases, capacity will need to be enhanced, and this takes time. Implementation of the policy recommendations within the Bank will take time too, as staff skills must be upgraded, skills mixes adjusted and procedures developed and improved.

Some progress have already been made as a number of countries are in the process or have adopted water policies that reflect some of the basic features of the Bank's policy. Countries such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia have adopted the approach of promoting and expanding the role of water user associations (WUAs) in water management and system ownership. Other countries such as Chile and Mexico have taken the additional step of using water markets as another mechanism to decentralize and improve water management. Still others, including Pakistan and Peru, are in the process of considering radical changes in their current water management.


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

To compliment these efforts to improve the delivery of water service, countries must develop mechanisms to coordinate their water planning and development activities. Most countries can no longer afford the luxury of independent 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 basin context so that the interdependencies in water use are taken into account right from the early planning stages.


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Financing Investments in Water Supply and Sanitation

Terence R. Lee1

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

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

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

The financing needs are not limited to the initial capital investment, but include the need to generate funds for the operation and maintenance of the systems once built. Moreover, the financial demands of water supply and sewerage systems are growing as population increases and water sources grow more distant and as it becomes increasingly necessary to dispose of human and industrial wastes safely.

A recent study shows that “the funding of capital investments in water-related projects is mainly provided from national sources” (ECLAC, 1990b). In the last decade more than 70% of capital funding for the expansion of water supply and sanitation services has come directly from national sources (PAHO, 1987). During the International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, the share of external funding, including loans, in capital investment in water supply and sanitation services has been lower for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as a whole, than in the countries of Africa and Asia (WHO, 1987). There is no reason to expect that the proportion of capital funding provided from external sources to water supply and sanitation 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 the self-financing of water supply and sanitation services, including sewage treatment, through the income derived from tariffs. If this is to be achieved then it is important that the whole population pay for services: an issue of some importance given the unequal distribution of income in most cities of the region.


By 1980, at the beginning of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade (IDWSSD), the population of Latin America and the Caribbean was relatively well provided with drinking water supply and sanitation facilities compared with the population of other regions of the developing world. There had been two decades of special investment programmes in and general development of drinking water supply and excreta disposal services in the region. Relatively well organized water supply and sanitation institutions were operating in most countries. In urban areas, high levels of service had been achieved, particularly in drinking water supply where 71 % of the population was served with house connections, but only 59% of the urban population was connected to sewerage systems or provided with other forms of sanitary excreta disposal (PAHO, 1987). In rural areas less progress had been made although, in many pans of the region piped drinking water supply systems were being installed in the larger rural settlements.

In the 1980's, the rate of improvement in the levels of service in the region slackened. Between 1980 and 1990, the proportion of the urban population with access to a protected drinking water supply rose only from 83% to 86%, and the proportion with access to sewerage services and excreta disposal facilities only from 59% to 60%. In rural areas more was achieved, with access to water supply rising from 40% to 45%, and to sanitation services from 11 % to 15%. In general, the goals of the IDWSSD were not met.

In most countries of the region, the financing of water supply and sewerage systems is inadequate either to keep up with the needs of capital expansion for the growing urban population or for the maintenance of the existing systems. It is true that the provision of drinking water and sewerage to the urban population has increased in nominal terms, but the service provided is often very irregular and of questionable quality (PAHO 1990). Not all countries have even managed to maintain the nominal levels of service reached in the past. In Buenos Aires, the proportion of the population served by the system operated by Obras Sanitarias de la Nación (OSN) has steadily declined over the last fifty years. In 1947, 94% of the population lived in a dwelling with a connection to the water supply system, in 1960 only 76% and by 1980 less than 60%. In the absence of the provision of drinking water by OSN, the population of Buenos Aires has had to shift for itself. Sometimes this has led to the creation of local water supply systems providing good service, but in many cases the result has been recurrence to sources of dubious quality and an over reliance on individual excreta disposal systems with a high potential for contaminating aquifers (Brunstein, 1988).

Income from the Provision of Water Supply and Sewerage

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

Until very recently, public water supply and sanitation companies have been incapable of compensating the reduction in government contributions to capital financing by generating more funds from revenues. The resulting shortfall in capital funding has severely affected not only expansion programmes, 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 would generate revenues sufficient to recover the total costs of the provision of service. In Mexico, for example, the total cost of providing drinking water through 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 situation of water supply and sanitation companies by following sound tariff policies. In Chile, 56% of the funds invested in water supply and sanitation services by the Servicio Nacional de Obras Sanitarias (SENDOS) over the period 1985-1989 were generated from tariff revenues and more recently a tariff policy has been applied to permit the services to meet all their investment needs from income (Chile, 1993). In Brazil, the sector has been partially self-financing since the adoption of the “Plan Nacional de Saneamiento” (PLANASA) in 1971 (World Bank, 1989). Political difficulties led to a serious reduction in the self-sufficiency of the plan for a number of years, but in 1990 almost 80% of the 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 determines the contribution of revenues to capital funding. Water pumped, but not accounted for, reduces revenues and can also inflate the need for new investments. The experience of most water supply companies in the region indicates that high values of unaccounted for water are more often the result of deficiencies in commercial management, mainly problems in billing and the collection of payment and inadequate policies for dealing with overdue accounts, than solely due to high rates of leakage in distribution systems (Yepes, 1990). For example, it has been estimated in Mexico that of each 100 litres pumped in a typical distribution network, the user receives 60, is billed for 40, and finally only pays for 30. In addition, tariff collection has been characterized by delays in billing of some 6-9 months (Mexico, 1989).

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

One of the more serious consequences of inadequate tariff structures, and an additional argument for adopting tariffs that fully reflect costs, is that low tariffs for drinking water supply and sewerage do not, as a rule, benefit the poor. It is usually the poor who, through the lack of investment, do not have adequate access to public drinking water supply and, as a result, are forced to buy water from private water sellers at prices far exceeding those charged by water supply companies. It has been estimated that the 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 times higher in Tegucigalpa, Honduras than the price charged by the utility (World Bank, 1988). In Quito, Ecuador, households without connection to the public supply paid US$ 4.31 for 4 cubic meters while the water supply company would provide 50 cubic meters for that price (USAID, 1991).

Sources of Finance for Water Supply and Sanitation Investments

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

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

In Mexico, funds for drinking water supply and sanitation investments come largely from the Federal Government whose contributions are estimated to have accounted for almost 84% of the total. State governments have contributed with an additional 4% to investments and only 10% has been provided from external sources. Federal investments were reduced after 1984, as a result of the economic problems affecting the country. This reduction was accompanied by the increasing role of internal and external borrowings in investment funding. The dependence on borrowed funds and subsidies is now being reduced through a combination of policies, including better management, the setting of tariffs in accordance with marginal costs, and other measures aimed at making operating companies financially independent. In addition, there is an effort to increase sector financing through a better and more flexible combination of federal and other resources and through the promotion of private investment and community participation (Mexico, 1989).

In Peru, the contribution of national sources to investment funding has been around 69% in recent years. Due to the decrease in the volume of external funding, the share of financing provided from national sources increased 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 the 1986-1995 investment programme indicates that the financing of investments in urban areas comes mainly from operational revenues and community and user contributions, and only to a lesser extent from general government revenues and external 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 investment financing for water supply and sanitation between 1985 and 1989 with 32% coming from operating revenues, slightly more than 15% from the central government and 16% from miscellaneous sources including equipment suppliers and users. The remaining 37% of funding was provided from IDB and World Bank loans.

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


Self-financing water supply and sanitation systems can be defined as those in which tariff revenues meet the total costs of operating and maintaining existing installations, the capital costs of expanding coverage to remove 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 the associated costs of providing adequate treatment before discharge to the environment. The adoption of such criteria for water supply and sanitation system management would not mean that companies could not borrow money from either national banks, the multi-lateral development banks or from any other lending institutions. It would mean, however, that the total costs of loans would be paid from the revenues received from the sale of water and sewerage services. It would not preclude subsidies either, but any subsidies would be clearly explicit transfers for reasons of social policy. The adoption of such criteria would lay the foundation for the companies to issue bonds or shares to the general investing public, as is now being done in Chile (El Mercurio, 1992).

The tariff charged to customers would depend on long term average and marginal costs, the rate of interest for loans, the amortization period, the rate at which any existing deficit in the provision of service is made up, the rate at which the population to be served grows and the costs of operating and maintaining the existing works, among other factors.

Can tariffs be set to meet all costs?

In order to explore the possibilities for financing water supply and sanitation services from tariffs a recent study by ECLAC estimated what tariffs would be necessary, on the basis of the known per capita unit costs of 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 both maintenance and operation. The amortized capital cost was calculated using different real rates of interest, 2% and 10%, and different repayment periods, 25, 50 and 75 years. The calculations were made individually for each country in terms of the lowest, highest and average charges which would be required (Table 1).


(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 period 75 years, average - average of all rates and periods, maximum - interest rate 10%, amortization period 25 years.

In making these calculations, it was assumed that new customers would be connected proportionately in each year to the end of the century and that, as the new customers receive a connection, they would begin to pay on the same basis as the population connected at the beginning of the period. It was also assumed that everyone already connected would begin paying the full capital cost of his connection in 1989, the base year for the calculations. The tariffs calculated would only meet amortized capital costs of existing installations. The total costs of achieving final self-sufficiency would be approximately 26% higher, so as to include other items than capital investment. The total cost of services includes, as well as the replacement cost of existing connections, a series of additional items. These include capital investments providing services to new customers, the rehabilitation of existing systems, many of which are in very bad condition, the costs of training staff and of institutional modernization and, finally, the cost of waste treatment. It is assumed that the cost of water treatment is included in the per capita estimates of the costs of providing drinking water supply.

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

The expansion of systems in order to achieve universal coverage by the year 2000 and maintaining and rehabilitating existing services would mean the need to include in the tariff an average charge per person of almost US$ 2.00 a month in addition to the previously estimated amortized capital 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 of service (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 of drinking water supply and sewerage services through house connections, major rehabilitation costs of existing systems, expansion of waste water treatment and the costs of training and institutional modernization.


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

In setting the tariffs, it is unrealistic not to take into account the existence of considerable inequalities of income in most countries and the large proportion of the population living in poverty, estimated to have been 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 incomes as well as to the costs of installation, operation and maintenance of services.

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

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

From the estimations of the cost of providing water supply and sewerage services, it is possible to estimate the proportion of both the monthly minimum 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 both water supply and sewerage through house connections fall generally within the 1-2% range of the minimum wage. In some of the poorer countries, the estimated cost of water supply and sanitation tariffs, even for the minimum cost case, is more than 2% of the average manufacturing wage. The costs of providing water supply 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 cost case. As a proportion of the average manufacturing wage, the costs are lowest in Venezuela, Chile and Colombia. The costs are the highest proportion of the minimum wage in Ecuador and Colombia.

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

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

· The distribution of water consumption is very skewed. The poor tend to consume very much less than the average 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 of drinking water supply and sewerage services through house connections, major rehabilitation costs of existing systems, expansion of waste water treatment and the 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 and cooking is only a small proportion of the total demand (Gibbons, 1986). In a recent study of the demand for water in Mexico, the authors present histograms of water consumption in a number of Mexican cities (Saavedra et al, 1991). The histograms all show similar distributions of water demand with the 30 percent of households with the highest incomes consuming half the total. The concentration of consumption is even greater in some of the cities included in the study, for example 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 similar concentrations of water consumption were observed in Juárez, Chihuahua and La Paz, Baja California Sur. In general, in all cities the skew and concentration in the distribution of water consumption was remarkably similar (Figure 1).

Data on the consumption of water for Santiago, Chile also show a relationship between income and consumption, although the information is less precise. The population of metropolitan Santiago has universal access to drinking water through house connections. Within the metropolitan area, however, there are considerable differences in apparent per capita water consumption by municipality. In the municipalities with high income households consumption is between 500 and 600 litres per capita a day. In municipalities where average household incomes are lower the per capita consumption is between 100 and 200 litres (Icaza and Rodriguez, 1988).

The Mexican study and the Santiago data confirm the pattern of residential water consumption found in other earlier studies in quite disparate social and economic situations. The Johns Hopkins University Residential Water Use Project showed, for the United States, a clear relationship between the level of household income and the demand for water (Howe and Linaweaver, 1967). The influence of income on the residential demand for water, it was concluded, is expressed through the greater use of water using appliances, more bathrooms per household and for lawn sprinkling. A similar relationship between residential water demand and the level of household income was observed in New Delhi, India (Lee, 1969).

Figure 1. Distribution of Water Consumption in Mexican Cities

Source: Saavedra et al
The consequences for tariff policy of this skewed pattern of residential water demand lie in the possibilities it raises for subsidies to poor households. Moreover, it raises the possibility of applying discriminatory tariffs to increase economic efficiency in the provision water supply and sewerage services; that is, such a policy would raise the social benefits by more than it would decrease private benefits.

An example of the possibilities is provided by the tariff policies applied in Chile. The basis of the policy is that the water supply and sanitation companies should be self-financing and capable of attracting private investors and that all consumers should pay for water. In its present form the policy has only been in force since 1990, but the impact on the finances of the water supply and sanitation utilities has been spectacular. In 1992, the 13 publicly owned companies achieved an overall profit of US$ 10,000,000 after meeting the costs of debt service. In the same year, the companies invested over US$ 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 low income households for a consumption of up to 15 m3 a month. This subsidy of 75% of the charge is paid through the municipalities to water companies 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 of consumption to 20 m3 a month and increase the subsidy to a maximum of 80%. 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 of households 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 of the Punte del Este charter, to improve the provision of water supply and sewerage to the urban population of Latin America and the Caribbean. These efforts, however, have consistently fallen short of whatever goals were established (ECLAC, 1990a). One of the major restraints on achievement has been the weak financial situation of publicly owned water supply and sanitation companies. The lack of financial resources has been compounded by generally poor management. The consequences of these two factors have led in many cities to a failure 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. Poor management and limited operating incomes have been a considerable restraint even for those systems that have shown the best performance. There is, therefore, ample reason to look for new approaches to the provision of water supply and sanitation in urban areas.

Moving towards self-financing of water supply and sewerage services is a major challenge for the countries of Latin America. The removal of the financial restraint is possible, even in the poorest countries of the region, through the establishment of tariff systems which would generate sufficient revenues to cover the total cost of providing house connections for both water supply and sewerage to the whole population. The application of such tariff structures would not be easy, however, and would require a considerable change in management attitudes and practices in the water supply and sanitation sector: a change which may not be possible without drastic institutional change.

The need for institutional innovation is the most potent argument for the privatization of water supply and sewerage services, although other types of institutional change may be as effective. Privatization does not have 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 Chile and Mexico, may be just as potent an innovating force and would equally demand that tariffs cover the whole costs of providing service, including an appropriate return on capital.

What must be achieved, however, is not privatization per se, but that the urban water supply and sanitation services of the region become self-financing public utilities whoever owns them. Unless systems are self-financing, no matter what other reforms are made, investment and the provision of service will remain in deficit and the quality of service will remain deficient. The achievement of financial self-sufficiency is the great challenge not only for water supply and sanitation policy in Latin America and the Caribbean during this, the last decade of the Twentieth Century, but for water management policy as a whole. Unless water supply and sanitation companies can achieve financial independence then the water bodies in the vicinity of the cities of Latin America and the Caribbean will undeniably continue to be polluted; a situation which is bound to endanger any effort to improve the quality of the environment in general in the countries of the region.


Bolivia. 1988. Ministerio de Asuntos Urbanos, Dirección Nacional de Infraestructura Urbana, Corporación de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado, Dirección de Saneamiento Ambiental del Ministerio de Previsión Social y Salud Publica, Perfil de movilización de recursos, Reunión Consultiva del Decenio Del 29 de agosto al 1 de septiembre, La Paz.

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 la situación al final de Decenio Internacional de Abastecimiento de Agua y Saneamiento en México y perspectivas para el futuro, Reunión del Grupo de Trabajo de Gerentes de Servicios de Abastecimiento de Agua y Saneamiento en la América Latina, Revisión de los Progresos del Decenio Internacional del Abastecimiento de Agua y del Saneamiento, PAHO, World Bank, IDB, Washington, D.C., May 10-12.

Chile, Superintendencia de Servicios Sanitarios. 1993. Memoria Anual, 1992, Santiago.

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

Colombia, Departamento Nacional de Planeación. 1988. El sector de agua potable y saneamiento en Colombia, Regional Seminar on Water Supply 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 Latin America and the Caribbean), Water Management in Metropolitan Areas of Latin America, LC/R.1156, Santiago.

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

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

ECLAC. 1993. (United Nations, Economic Commission for Latin America 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% De Empresas de Obras Sanitarias, 6 August, Santiago.

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

Howe, C. W. and F. P. Linaweaver, Jr. 1967. The Impact of Price on Residential Water demand and Its Relationship to System Design and Price 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 the 1990s, World Bank Discussion Papers, Washington.

Lee, T. R. 1969. Residential Water Demand and Economic Development, University of Toronto, Department of Geography Research Publications, No: 2, Toronto.

Lee, T. R. and A. Jouralev, 1992. Self-financing water supply and 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 and Sanitation 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 Programa Nacional de Aprovechamiento del Agua, 1989-1994, unpublished draft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO (World Health Organization) (1987) Division of Environmental Health, Community Water Supply Unit, “The International Water Supply and Sanitation Decade Review of mid-Decade Progress (as at December 1985)”, CWS Series of Cooperative Action for the Decade, September.

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

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

Yepes, Guillermo, “Management and Operational Practices of Municipal and Regional Water and Sewerage Companies in Latin America and the Caribbean” Infrastructure and Urban Development Papers, Report INU 61, The World Bank, Washington, 1990, p. 12

Mechanisms for Financing the Development of Public Work Infrastructure

José A. Martínez1

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

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


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

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

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

In order to provide level of service necessary to remove deficits and meet future demand, there must be a commitment to increase capacity of public works. Capacity can increase by improving maintenance of existing stock, more efficient use of existing facilities, implementing low-cost alternative service delivery systems, and finally through more investment. Any strategy towards this goal should include meeting public works financing needs by increasing the share of costs borne by those who benefit.


In private markets, the sale of goods and services finances their production. Consumer demand, together with available technology, determines the firm's scale of operation and production levels. Users could finance a greater proportion of many public works facilities in such areas as transportation, water supply, wastewater treatment, electric power, and solid waste 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 be refused services or if in need their use can be subsidized.

Charging beneficiaries directly for the cost of services has advantages. One such advantage is that all beneficiaries can be made to pay their fair share. This allocation of charges can help avoid the overbuilding that may come with the perception that anything “public” is free or should be underpriced.

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

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

The beneficiary finance principle has some limitations. If revenues are not set at a level needed to finance the service or facility, they will not send the correct resource-allocation signals. Also, if there are beneficiaries who cannot afford to cover the full cost of the service, general fund subsidies may be required.


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

Earmarked Taxes

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

Earmarking has many advantages for public works financing. It can be a way to introduce new spending programs or taxes in spite of fiscal austerity. Legislatures are often more likely to approve a new tax if they can see 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 a significant effect on the level of spending for that program for they are used to issue debt.

The narrower a designated revenue is, the greater the spending effect on the program involved. For example, earmarking local landfill revenues will have a greater impact on that facility's operation than a statewide tax dedicated to a broad range of environmental improvements.

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

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

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

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

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

User Fees

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

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

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

Most of the public work corporations in Puerto Rico based their pricing or rates structure on the average cost method. The rates are set to cover most of the operating and maintenance costs and to generate funds for capital improvements. However, the rates have to be revised periodically because they do not adjust automatically for all cost increases, particularly wage increases resulting from collective bargaining with the labor unions. Rate revision for public services is one of the most difficult political decision on the island. Some corporations run operational deficits year after year before being allowed to revise their rates. In some cases financing corporations have been established to channelize funds from other sources to trouble public corporations. Efforts at maximizing operating agency income by timely collection of debts, elimination of illegal or unrecorded corrections, accurate consumption metering, cost control and productivity increase have not had much success.

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

Full cost pricing of water supply and wastewater treatment facilities could pay for a larger proportion of these services. To encourage full-cost pricing, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's loans from the revolving fund created under the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act in the U.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, several projects were redesigned at lower initial costs.

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

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

A special application of the user-fee concept has emerged in public works financing in growing areas. Local requirements governing new development have long included the provision of on site infrastructure such as a power, telephone, sewer, and water connections. In the last decade, many localities have also begun to require developers to finance offsite infrastructure expansion or construction. Such requirements are implemented through development fees and exactions. Development fees are established or negotiated charges imposed on developers to finance infrastructure, while exactions are facilities built by developers and dedicated to the city or public corporation providing service.

Development fees and exactions are controversial public finance tools. Those opposing their use argue that providing community-wide infrastructure is a local government responsibility for which everyone should pay, and that newcomers to an area should not bear the major cost of correcting problems created before their arrival. They also claim that these fees increase housing costs considerably.

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

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

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

Special Districts and Authorities

Special districts are limited-purpose governmental units with the power to levy taxes, user charges, and other fees. Public authorities perform similar functions but are not considered units of government for the purposes of debt liability or state constitutional restrictions. Both offer a way to shift infrastructure financing away from all taxpayers to those directly served.

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

Special districts also offer a way for governments to cooperate in dealing with public works issues that affect more than one government. Special districts that transcend jurisdictional boundaries can help ensure that a facility is constructed and operated on an optimal scale.

Some special districts are better able than general-purpose governments to maintain existing facilities in good repair, but this advantage is not universal. The maintenance and rehabilitation record of districts and authorities ranges from excellent to poor, as it does for cities and other governments. In cities with budget problems and deferred public works maintenance, facilities operated by districts and authorities also suffer from disinvestment. This suggests that an area's economic vitality has at least as much effect on its public works' condition as the area's governmental structures.

Districts and authorities that have not deferred maintenance are those with strong and independent sources of income that are protected from cuts In times of tight budgets. Profitable facilities tend to be better maintained than those that produce deficits, such as mass transit systems. Earmarked taxes associated with bond issues can protect operating budgets, while dependence on operating subsidies from general purpose governments makes them move vulnerable.

In summary, special districts and authorities for public works provision can offer ways to transcend the fiscal, bureaucratic and geographic limitations of general-purpose governments. Since their revenue streams are segregated from competing priorities, districts theoretically could make better scale, pricing, and maintenance decisions.

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

Puerto Rico began to develop its infrastructure in a centralized way since the early 1940's. To accomplish it, public authority or corporations were created. The first public corporations were part of political and social movements which main purpose was to eliminate the extreme poverty characteristic 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 political decision 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 services and even some poorly managed private services.

In fiscal year 1992 half of the government's budget, which amounted to about $6,500 million, was with the public corporations which employ over 60,000 persons. The 1993 operational budget only for those public corporations 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 and they are employing approximately 30,500 persons.

Each public corporation has a board of directors named by the Governor. 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 their respective customers. These boards meet periodically. They name in coordination with the Governor the executive director, establish and monitor the corporation's vision, goals, and objectives, its annual budget and capital investment program. The direction and control of the corporation is the responsibility of the executive director.

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

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

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

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

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

The central government annual operating budget and capital improvement program prepared by the Office of Management and Budget must be in consonance with the plan of Integral Development and the Four Years Investment Program of the Planning Board.


In recent years, many governments have involved private firms in the financing, design, construction, and operation of public facilities and services. These arrangements bring tax benefits to the private firms and cost reductions to the governments.

Arrangements with the private sector sometimes offer potential advantages.

- Maintenance. State and local government fiscal pressures have contributed to undermaintenance. Private firms have an incentive to maintain facilities, since maintenance costs are operating expenses that are tax-deductible.

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

- Performance sanctions. Private firms can lose contracts or profitability for inadequate performance. Equivalent sanctions general do not exist for public agencies.

During the last few years practically every public corporation in Puerto Rico has taken initiatives towards privatizing some of their services. The P.R. Highway Authority established a precedent for being the first entity under 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 with the central business district. The P.R. Ports Authority privatized the operation and maintenance of several pier facilities in the San Juan Harbor. The P.R. Aqueducts and Sewers Authority is entering into agreements with some private firms to operate and manage some of its regional wastewater treatment plants. The P.R. Electric Power Authority is also considering various proposals from private firms for energy regeneration projects based on gas and coal. The previous administration engaged for about two years in talks with international companies to sell its Telephone Company in order to establish two permanent funds, one for education and another for infrastructure development. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached except for the sale of a subsidiary that manages long distance calls.


Infrastructure finance policy debates revolve around three questions:

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

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

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

However, these techniques are not foolproof. At all levels, the political process responds to changing public priorities regardless of institutional rigidities and constraints. Legislatures can fail to appropriate already collected trust-fund balances; earmarked revenues can be offset by reduced general-fund spending' and special districts or authorities can fail to carry out their mission because of their financial dependence on general-purpose governments.

Designing Appropriate Financial Arrangements to Ensure the Proper Operation and Maintenance of Water Supply Facilities

Enrique Moncada1 and Vinio Floris²

1 Universidad Nacional Agraria, La Molina, Lima, Perú
² South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
1. Introduction

The operation and maintenance of water supply facilities may be considered as the cornerstone of the planning, design and implementation of water resources infrastructure. However, while the developed countries have addressed their goals to an appropriate operation and maintenance of such systems, the developing countries have concentrated their efforts on the building of water resources systems programs.

In the case of developed nations, the operation and maintenance of water resources systems is successful because it is conceived in a 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 in achieving efficient operation of a water supply system.

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

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

The amazing reduction of life expectancy for hydraulic structures such as reservoirs, hydroelectric plants, drainage and irrigation systems, and urban water supply systems, define the necessity for a new approach in operation and maintenance practices. Financial alternatives to the planning process which would allow Latin America to fulfill the requirements of an operation and maintenance program should be analyzed, evaluated, and implemented.

2. Description of the Problem

2.1 Investment in Hydraulic Infrastructure

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

The trend in the last 25 years has been to have an active government's participation in the planning and management of water resources systems. It is quite common to find considerable political support for building infrastructure rather than for O&M. Also, the utilities companies have not been prepared to afford an adequate operation and maintenance of water supply facilities. Thus, in most of the cases O&M decisions have followed political initiatives, paying little attention to technical decisions.

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

Table 1: Percentage of Hydraulic Infrastructure Investment in 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 - by projects. The total cost of the main projects is an estimated $9.5 billion dollars, in which $2.6 billion have already been invested (approximately 27% of the total). Of the nine water resources projects considered, six of them are located in the north coast. The ones that are closer to completion are Chira-Piura and Jequetepeque in the north, and Majes in the south.

Table 2: Investments in the Main Water Resources Projects for 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 of Water 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. Developed countries consider this approach in the planning stage and implement it in the operational stage of a such a project. Hence, institutional arrangements and cost sharing are carried out so that a successful operation and maintenance is assured through the application of a fair water tariff.

Developing countries lie the responsibility of the O&M activities in the government sector, which at the present in most of the Latin American countries face tremendous institutional and economic problems. In addition, the lack of effective institutional arrangement and cost sharing makes the 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 tariffs for water and energy that are far below the real break even prices. This lack of funding causes side effects, producing an extremely inefficient service that users sometimes refuse to pay for.

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

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

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

As seen here, the water law considers that the water tariff should pay for operation and maintenance costs and the amortization of the infrastructure. However, the real situation is quite different and some of these reasons are listed below:

a. The water tariff never has represented the real value of the operation, maintenance and amortization costs of a water resource system.

b. The main water resources projects are considered as being allocated for irrigation purpose. Hence, the paternalism of the government supporting financially the activities in the agricultural sector and the economic crisis of the last 25 years has affected the efficiency of O&M activities.

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

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

Figure 1: Income due to Water Tariffs.

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 the proper operation of a water resource system. These arrangements may come from establishing the right framework for operating and recovering costs to agree how the cost sharing has to be done.

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

The priorities for the O&M of infrastructure follows more political reasons than technical ones. In developed countries, priorities are set up by the community with less intervention of the political system. Thus, issues like lack of appropriately trained personnel and communication equipment is evident in emergency conditions. Lack of adequate data hampers the decision making process in critical operational conditions, and if the data exists, it is usually not analyzed due to the absence of adequate personnel and equipment.

2.2.3 Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is the step through which operation, maintenance and amortization costs are financially planned. The institutions involved in the use of the water commit to afford the operation of the water system through the collection of the revenues.

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

3. Proposal of a New Approach

This proposal intends to conjugate economic efficiency criteria and the rationale of the water resource, considering it as a public good susceptible to demand and the supply. Thus, this approach basically considers:

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

b. Real cost sharing among the different water users

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

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

e. To avoid the decrease of the expected life of the infrastructure, water tariffs have to be paid according to their real value.

f. Allocate funds for preventive maintenance as it should eliminate 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 the country, to have a better understanding of the importance of O&M activities and their financial needs. Among countries, it will allow the transfer of proper technology and experiences on O&M issues.

4. Conclusions and Recommendations

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

The lack of institutional arrangements has caused the absence of a commitment between the users and the government to share the financial responsibility of O&M. This situation has created a discontinuity in the planning and management process and increased in most of the cases the O&M costs.

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

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

5. References

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

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

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

Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo (1993). Programa de Inversiones de los Proyectos Especiales. Período 1993-1997. Documentos Internos. Lima, Perú.

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

International Conference on Water and Environment (1992). The Dublin Statement and Report of the Conference on Water and Sustainable Development. Dublin, Ireland.

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

Environmental Issues and Restrictions from the Perspective of the Borrowing Countries

José G. Ochoa-Iturbe1

1 Coordinator of the Environmental Programme, School of Engineering, Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Av. Francisco de Miranda, Edificio Galipán, Entrada A, Oficina 3-D, Chacao, Caracas 1060, Venezuela

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

It is my conviction that if we cannot separate one sector from the others, funds will not be available for some time, as social and political policies are harder to implement and must be tried out in each case, as each country 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 the developing countries the most important of the environmental problems are those related with water supply, sanitation and the disposal of solid wastes. If all the population had adequate water and sanitation services, more than two million deaths caused by diarrheic maladies could be avoided” (1). What this means is that for us, environment is probably something different than for developed countries, 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 (decent standard of living, some quantity and quality of water, etc.).Therefore, we could say that “environment” is a critical health problem for developing 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 sought foreign aid, specially from the World Bank or the Interamerican Development Bank, where better loaning conditions are to be had as the purpose of these banks was, and is, to provide funds for development (The World Bank really began as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). However these funds have always had some conditioning factors to guarantee the Bank that the money is put to good use. Some of them, unfortunately, are more on the political issues than on the environmental ones, thus giving the sector a secondary and conditioned position. This, at least has been the case of Venezuela.

VENEZUELA: an Attempt to Obtain Funds for the Water and Environment Sectors

When we began in 1989 to seek funds to reform and better our water supply and sanitation services, long deteriorated due to poor administration 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 for the rehabilitation of the sector. However, loaning conditions for the sector were set within the overall “ Bank's objective to help the government overcome it's present economic and financial crisis”(2). Therefore, unless the government complied with the economic recommendations that were suggested, the water and environment sector would not receive the necessary funds. There were, of course, some conditions within the sector i.e. elimination of the National Agency (INOS), creation of regional operating companies to handle water supply and sewage systems, raise in tariffs, etc.

To make a long story short, these sector conditions have been met almost to the last point (even tariffs have been raised, although not yet to the level of self-sustainability). This has not happened in the macro-economical arena, where some of the measures recommended have caused rioting in our country. Specially in 1989 we had a serious one - gas prices were raised - and riots lasted three days with heavy losses in lives and assets. The government went back to new discussions with the Bank on overall strategies to implement the agreed policies. This has been going on since. To this day the water and environment sector has not been able to receive funds for their projects, although we have submitted for approval several proposals for environmental cleanup and rehabilitation of the water supply systems. IDB has been more responsive, and we have a couple of projects going on with their help.

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

In dealing with the Bank, one of the first things that should be mentioned is that we were always dealing with new people (new sectors, new chiefs of divisions, new delegations) and, of course, this meant renewed explanations and presentations of the same projects over and over again. Changes were made in the proposals, according to new points of view from the representative in turn, and lot's of time was lost this way.

We know that in some other countries in the region, like Peru and Bolivia, loans have been made and projects are on their way and it could be very helpful for all of us to hear about their experience in this dialogue conference.

My feeling is that environmental restrictions for loans from the international financing banks are commendable, as protection of the environment is a present and future necessity. But we must bear in mind that development and environment are linked by that new word “sustainable”, and that to carry this through, great investments are needed as the technology is foreign and expensive, and that our countries are in a poor financial condition 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 commercial barriers and easier communications has made the World shrink and as economies are more and more heavily tied, problems belong more to humanity than to a determined sector or country.

That is why I think that the Bank or any lending institution has to revise it's borrowing conditions where environmental projects are concerned. All of us, as a sector that deals with human survival, should not be subject to certain economic conditions, however important they might be, but our projects should be analyzed on the context of what will happen if the loan is not given.(we could mention the bout with Cholera over a year ago, where cases were reported very far from the original point of detection).

Again our suggestion is that dealings with the water and environmental sectors should go apart from other political or economical considerations. In this way we could improve our quality of life, our health and as a result we could pursue our sustainable development faster (only healthy people can work and produce properly)

One final consideration should be given to the debt problem from Latin America, now at a figure around $ 459 billion. The service of this debt is enormous and ways must be sought to solve it so we can pay and develop at the same time. Borrowing countries should be aware that this isn't helping anybody in the long run, and that their cooperation in solving this problem is essential.


More than “recommending” we might suggest that future loans for our sector should be worked out on the following premises:

A) The water and environmental projects should not be restricted by other considerations (economical, political) but by their own feasible limitations, as they form part of an effort for human welfare and survival.

B) Officials from the Banks should be maintained on their posts, long enough in a project to push it through. Perhaps the creation of a permanent delegate for the sector within the borrowing country would help pave the way.

C) Though not mentioned in this discussion, possibilities should be open for companies within the borrowing countries to tender in these projects. This would have a multiplying effect within the country as more money would circulate, benefiting indirectly part of the work force.

I would like to end by thanking the organizers for this opportunity and commend their efforts for making possible this dialogue and future ones.


1. Banco Mundial. Informe Sobre el Desarrollo Mundial 1992.

2. Letter to the Ministry from the World Bank, Nov 1989.

3. PNUD y BID. Comisión de Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente de America Latina y el Caribe. Nuestra Propia Agenda, 1990.

Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment 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 these proceedings, the english version of the presentation was not available. A report titled “Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment and Health - Background, Strategies, Fund of Preinvestment” is available upon request by writing to the author.


The economic stagnation that took place in Latin America and the Caribbean Region during the 1980's decreased public and private investment dramatically generating striking deficiencies in drinking water supply, sanitation, and in the replacement and maintenance of equipment and physical infrastructure. These deficiencies are evidenced by the violent outbreak of epidemics, such as cholera, as well as the high incidence of diarrheal disease in the Region, a major contributor to the approximately 130,000 deaths that occur annually among children under 5 years of age.

In order to cope with this situation there is a need for a strategy which includes short and long term interventions. With this objective, and as a response to the mandate given by the I Ibero-American Summit of Presidents and Heads of State, PAHO structured the document “Regional Plan for Investment in the Environment and Health”. This plan identifies investments required in the Region to overcome the aforementioned deficit, and proposes some strategies for its implementation at the country and at the regional level. It also proposes the terms of reference to establish a Multilateral Fund for the development of pre-investment activities necessary for the implementation of the Regional Plan and suggests investing approximately US$ 216,000 million over a 12-year period. Seventy percent of these funds will be financed using national resources and 30% from external sources.

The Plan should be understood as a strategy, a frame of reference, and a process.

· As a strategy, it is intended to contribute to the achievement of indispensable reforms in the systems and services intended to ensure the protection and control of the environment and provide direct health care services for the population.

· As a frame of reference, it suggests priority areas for investment; proposes the need to define criteria of quality, productivity and efficiency; and presents alternatives for action that will be more effective than in the past. The countries - in accordance with their individual realities, potentialities, and limitations - will utilize this frame of reference to formulate their own national Plans of Investment and develop specific projects.

· As a process, it will operate basically at the country level. This is an initial step, and is intended to spur, promote, and facilitate future action.

An Investigation of the Barriers to Private Sector Participation in Water Resources and Sewerage Services in Latin America

Barbara Richard and Kenneth Rubin1

1 Apogee Research Inc., 4350 East West Highway Suite #600, Bethesda, Maryland 20854, USA.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication of these proceedings, the english version of the presentation was not available. Further information on this presentation and topic may be available directly from the authors.


On behalf of the Infrastructure and Urban Development Department of the World Bank, Apogee Research, Inc. is undertaking a study of regulatory barriers to private sector involvement in water and sewerage services that exist in Latin America, with the explicit recognition that lowering such barriers is one small, but important, step in improving the efficiency of water sewerage service provision.

Regulation in the U.S.A., U.K., and France, while different in each country, shares some basic tenets. The institutional histories in many Latin American countries render some of these tenets irrelevant and unimportant to successful privatization efforts - in short - the rules for successful ventures are different. This study attempts to pinpoint the critical issues from the private provider's point of view as well as a potential or actual concessionaire, in order to learn from the success or failure of previous efforts in the region.

Privatization of water and sanitation in Latin America has concentrated on long-term concessions of water supply systems, the recent privatization of the Buenos Aires water supply system and the Mexico City awards being the largest to date. The study looks closely at these two privatization efforts and compares them to each other, and to a failed attempt in Caracas.

Government representatives from host countries also will be interviewed, to compare their perception of the critical elements for successful privatization efforts to those articulated by private providers.

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