Directed Study in Peru, J-Term 2016-2017
Obstacles and Opportunities for On-Site Water Production: The Case of Peru
Our three-person Team, consisting of Ariana Alva Ferrari, Jose Carlos Navarro Solis, and Jillian Flavin conducted on-site interviews and field observations to better understand the opportunities and the challenges of using five on-site water management systems as an environmentally sustainable, equally just approach to alleviating water stress for millions of Peruvians. The five “On-site” Water approaches include Rainwater Harvesting, Fog Harvesting, Atmospheric Water Generators, Graywater Recycling and Blackwater Recycling.
Our research revealed a series of potential implementation flaws for on-site water systems, some originating in the context of the applicability of these systems, others from the governance structure of water developed by the Peruvian Government. The diversity of users and the number of water agents thus indicate that implementing these systems will be quite difficult if not supported by all actors involved in water resource management. For example, while rainwater harvesting and rainwater catchment systems provide a good opportunity to
tackle water stress in regions with insufficient water infrastructure, it is the least acknowledged by local municipalities as a means to handle this issue.
Despite the apparent potential and the value of on-site water systems, relatively little work has been done in Peru to finance on-site water management systems. Many of the on-site systems have relied heavily on external aid to finance pilot projects and capacity building in communities. Alongside the national government, multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank, are involved in the investment of water infrastructure in Peru. However, our findings show that investments are still mainly focused on centralized water infrastructure projects such as the pipes, tunnels, dams, and desalination plants.
Research suggests that, if capital costs are excluded, the owners of on-site systems have a reasonable opportunity to provide many benefits when paying for the ongoing costs alone. Therefore, rebate schemes, access to microcredit, payment plans, should be a preferred option for policy makers in Peru and other countries. Barriers to implementation of on-site water systems such as lack of knowledge and lack of supply should be removed to encourage a wider adoption of on-site water systems.
We also found that education, training, and involvement of the local people are key success factors that should be examined once the systems have been installed. System maintenance and upkeep is dependent on community engagement, as was seen in the contrasting cases of rainwater harvesting in Payorote and atmospheric water generation in the Bujama District. The community-based water team in Payrote was successful in maintaining the system, while a lack of community involvement in the Bujama District required the project team to higher a security guard to protect the resource. This could have been avoided with proper education and community buy-in.
Furthermore, a lack of adequate supply of some on-site systems in Peru remains a challenge to the enhanced adoption of fog-harvesting, atmospheric water generation, and grey/black water recycling. The fog harvesting nets are currently imported from Spain, which increases the cost of these systems. Furthermore, only one atmospheric water generating company, Water Solutions, is based in Peru; however, Ambient Water (a U.S. based company) is currently expanding their market to Peru and will provide additional opportunities for small and large- scale systems in the future.
Applying these findings can provide the opportunity to advance “on-site” water system in Peru and help the country meet their targets set forth by the United Nations Agenda 2030 of Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, the authors expect that the results will provide further proof that “on-site” systems can increase human well-being and ecosystem services and also act as a way of improving equity, gender balance and strengthen social capital in a community.