IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Water resources

Water management policies in Latin America should be the central point of the adaptation criteria to be established in order to strengthen the countries’ capacities to manage water resources availability and demand, and ensure the safety of people and protection of their belongings under changing climatic conditions. In this regard, the principal actions for adaptation must include: improvement and further development of legislation related to land use on floodplains, ensuring compliance with existing regulations of risk zones, floodplain use and building codes; re-evaluating the design and safety criteria of structural measures for water management; developing groundwater protection and restoration plans to maintain water storage for dry seasons; developing public awareness campaigns to highlight the value of rivers and wetlands as buffers against increased climate variability and to improve participation of vulnerable groups in flood adaptation and mitigation programmes (IRDB, 2000; Bergkamp et al., 2003; Solanes and Jouravlev, 2006).

Adaptation to drier conditions in 60% of the territory of Latin America would require a great increase in the amount of investment in water supply systems, in addition to the US$17.7 billion needed to accomplish the provision of safe water systems to 121 million people, necessary to achieve the Millennium Declaration for Safe Water goals by 2015 (even though this would leave 10% of the population of Latin America without access to safe water) (IDB, 2004).

Managing transbasin diversions has been the solution for water development in some regions of the world, particularly in California. In Latin America, transbasin transfers in Yacambú basin (Venezuela), Catamayo-Chira basins (Ecuador and Peru), Alto Piura and Mantaro basins (Peru), and the São Francisco River (Brazil) would be an option to mitigate the likely stresses on water supply for the population. Transbasin diversions should be practiced responsibly, taking into account environmental consequences and the hydrological regime (Vásquez, 2004; Marengo and Raigoza, 2006).

The use of urban and rural groundwater needs to be controlled and rationalised, taking into account the quality, distribution and trends over time identified in each region. To develop sustainable groundwater and aquifer management, the rules to apply would be: limit or reduce the consequences of excessive abstractions, slow down growth of abstractions, explore possibilities for artificial aquifer recharge, and evaluate options for planned mining of groundwater storage (IRDB, 2000; World Bank, 2002b; Solanes and Jouravlev, 2006). Water conservation practices, re-use of water, water recycling by modification of industrial processes and optimisation of water consumption bring opportunities for adaptation to water-stressed periods (COHIFE, 2003).