WORLD BANK REPORT ON ICA WATER NOVEMBER 2008: GROSS UNDERESTIMATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE TO THE ICA AQUIFER BY THE AGRO-EXPORTERS WITH EMPHASIS ON THE ASPARAGUS GROWERS David Bayer 12 June 2009 email@example.com INTRODUCTION This is a critique of the following report : INRENA (IRH/ANA) – PERÚ: FORMULACIÓN DE ESTRATEGIAS Y PROGRAMAS PARA LA GESTIÓN DE LOS RECUROS HÍDRICOS SUBTERRÁNEOS CON ÉNFASIS EN LOS VALLES COSTEROS DEL PERÚ INFORME DE MISIÓN (LIMA, ICA, LAMBAYEQUE –
17 a 27 de noviembre de 2008)Dr Stephen Foster, Ing Héctor Garduño y Dra Ana Vidal. This report will be called the World Bank Report (or Bank) and the part which will be critiqued is the section which deals with Ica Valley. This critique will cite the thesis of Eric Rendon, AGROEXPORTACIÓN, DESEMPEÑO AMBIENTAL Y PROPUESTA DE MANEJO SOSTENIBLE DE RECURSOS HÍDRICOS EN EL VALLE DE ICA: 1950 – 2007, UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTÓNOMA DE MÉXICO, 2009, and will cite the authors 45 years of experience in the Valley and
constant review of the engineering reports on water usage. The gross underestimation of water overdraft is quite serious. The Bank reports 64 million cubic meters (MMC) per year when in fact the overdraft is 229 MMC. The Ica Valley aquifer consists of Villacuri and the Valley Viejo (o Bajo). The overdraft in Villacuri alone is 92 MMC. The Bank underestimated the overdraft by 165 MMC. The Bank reports that the subterranean water pumped for 2008 was 316 MMC. This figure is wrong since 321 MMC were pumped in 2005 and increased drastically, so that by 2009, it was at 473 MMC. This is an underestimate of 157 MMC (473- 316). Why is this so serious? If we know the estimated water reserve and the overdraft, we can estimate the number of years left until the aquifer dries up. In the Ica Valley, the best estimate is that there is a reserve of 1,592 MMC. With an overdraft of 229 MMC, and an assumed recharge of 5 % per year, the Valley aquifer would dry up within 8 years. But with the Bank’s overdraft figure of 64 MMC, the Valley aquifer would last nearly 35 years. THE BANK’S ERROR EXPOSES THE POPULATION OF ICA TO A POTENTIAL DISASTER WITHOUT ANY WARNING, PROJECTING A “FALSE SECURITY” WITH REGARD TO THE PROVINCE’S WATER SUPPLY. IN FACT, THE ICA VALLEY SHOULD BE DECLARED IN AN EMERGENCY, requiring drastic changes in the way agriculture uses water. How did the Bank make such a grave error? Who was behind these false estimates?
Unfortunately, the Bank seems to have obtained its source data from the Ica agroexporters, especially the asparagus growers, who are most interested in downplaying the negative impact of their agricultural crops on the Ica aquifer. In addition, the public agricultural engineers have been silenced into reporting the real water usages under the threat of being fired by these powerful agricultural interests. Finally, the Neo-Liberal Development Model which merges the interests of the agroexporters with those of the State and the Bank reduces the possibility that the real negative impacts to the environment are allowed to be presented to the population. POINT BY POINT ANALYSIS OF THE WORLD BANK REPORT WHICH SUPPORTS THE ASSERTATIONS ABOVE
1- The Bank did not consult with the two oldest Water Committees which serve 6,000 users each: "La Achirana" y "el Rio". Instead, the Bank interviewed the Presidents of the two new Subterranean Water Committees which serve less than 100 agro-exporters each. This fact fits with the author’s analysis of the new water law, namely that the newer Committees, the only ones consulted by the Bank, will be favored by the Government and lending agencies. It also translates into gathering "false" information from limited sources. Studies like these are EXTREMELY HARMFUL and destroy confidence in data collection! 2- the Report grossly underestimates the amount of water use by asparagus when it says "el cultivo más abundante, espárrago, requiere de 10,000 a 15,000 m3/año y por las condiciones climatológicas la única tecnología de riego adecuada es por goteo". There simply is not ONE GROWER who uses only 10,000 m3/año/ha (cubic meters per year per hectare). The most efficient grower is Agrokasa in the Valley (where the soils allow less water use, more clay than sand which is characteristic of Villacuri). Agrokasa uses 14,000 m3/año/ha. According to Eric Rendon’s thesis, over a 20 year period, asparagus used an average of 32,000 m3, when drip and flood irrigation are combined, which is the common way of producing for the majority of the growers in the Valley "Viejo" of Ica (excludes Villacuri). If we factor out the flood irrigation and use data for the last 10 years as the growers became more efficient, then we can estimate that they use 22,000 m3 /año/ha. The World Bank report underestimates the use of water by asparagus growers by an average of 10,000 m3/ano/ha. and the total negative impact of this crop on the Ica aquifer since asparagus uses 35 % of the total amount of water in the Ica Valley. THIS IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE AND SHOULD RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY FUTURE CONFIDENCE IN WORLD BANK STUDIES! 3- Naturally this translates into the gross underestimate of the overdraft of the Ica Valley aquifer. The World Bank states that the overdraft is 64 MMC. Data collected from several functionaries and private sources from my investigation and crosschecked, over and over, indicates that the most likely overdraft of the Ica aquifer is near 229 MMC /año. The Bank is off by 165 MMC per year. This is to be expected if you underestimate the use of water by asparagus growers by 10,000 m3 per hectare per year. 2
4- The Bank report is wrong about the subterranean water which is pumped yearly. It says that it is 316 MMC per year. It is more likely 473 MMC per year. This is an unacceptable difference of 157 MMC per year, underestimate by the World Bank. 5- The Bank avoids proposing real solutions to protect the aquifer. This favors the large agro-exporters in the short run but makes their enterprises unsustainable in the long run and threatens the social peace in the entire Province of Ica. The Bank does not recommend a change to crops which are less water intensive (e.g. reduce asparagus and replace it with olives). Anyone with a minimum of agricultural knowledge knows that asparagus is not an appropriate crop for a desert climate like Ica. It is generally grown in water abundant areas of the world. Traditional Quebranta grapes use 3,000 to 5,000 cubic meters per hectare per year and export grapes 7,500 to 10,000. Compared to asparagus which uses 22,000, these less water intensive crops use 1/7 to Â˝ the amount of water. The Bank does not recommend that the largest agro-exporters in the "Valle Viejo" flood irrigate their fields with "agua de venida" (highland rain waters which come down to the Ica coast from January to May in a good year). These large growers farm some 6,000 hectares. which has not been flood irrigated for the last 15 years and have negatively impacted the aquifer. One of the best articles in the new Water Law is article 112 which recommends a combined use of well water with flood irrigation, using the abundant water supplies from the highland rains. The Bank simply takes the point of view of these large growers, having excluded interviews with the two older Juntas, and criticizes these older Juntas for not getting their users who have withdrawn from planting to flood irrigate their fields. The latter represent an estimated total of 3000 hectares, averaging less than 3 hectares each. They have stopped planting since the pronounced drop in water table (and moisture) has impacted their ability to obtain a production level which covers their cost of purchasing water from the older Juntas (El Rio or La Achirana). 6- There is no sense of urgency in the World Bank Report. No attempt to predict that the aquifer will most likely dry up if there is not a radical change in the structure of production (crops and planting rotations= Plan de Cultivos). Planning is anathema to an institution which has been a major promoter of the failed NeoLiberal model! There is no mention of the social conflict generated by the large agro-exporters who have threatened not only the ground water levels and moisture for small growers but the drinking water supplies of the rural and urban population of the Ica Province (the Voz de Ica newspaper records nearly 50 articles about these conflicts over the last five years!). The city of Ica has drinking water for only three hours per day. The two biggest districts, Parcona and La Tinguina, have drinking water for one hour per day. Most of the rural areas have drinking water for two hours, every other day. Often there is no water for a couple of weeks in rural municipalities while wells are deepened from 60 meters to 120 meters because of the drop in the aquifer.
7- The Bank Report makes no attempt to measure the reserve of water in the Ica aquifer. Data from INRENA (2003) estimates that the reserve is between 1,592 MMC to 3,759 MMC for Ica. THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST SERIOUS FLAW IN THE BANK REPORT. The "precautionary principle" demands that you underscore the most dangerous scenario: We do not know how much water there is in the reserve, and we do not know the quality of this water, therefore Ica must stop over drafting 229 MMC per year as SOON AS POSSIBLE (or the flawed 64 MMC Bank figure). Ica should be declared in a STATE OF EMERGENCY!!! SUMMARY This essay has demonstrated that the World Bank study of the Ica aquifer was influenced by the agro-exporters who reported false data. The World Bank is responsible for a flowed methodology which depended on information sources that had a direct â€œconflict of interestâ€? in the outcome of the study. Finally, this flawed Bank study has very serious consequences for the people of Ica, who are facing a water disaster since the aquifer might be dry within 8 years. With this real possibility, the Valley should be declared in a State of Emergency and new water policies should be implemented immediately, including the exclusion of water intensive crops like asparagus.
Published on Jan 19, 2016
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