Lima, Peru’s capital city, draws its water from the Rimac, Lurin and Chillon rivers and a groundwater aquifer underlying the city. The rivers rise in the Andes Mountains and are connected to the groundwater aquifer. However, in recent years it has become apparent that these sources are insufficient to meet the growing water demand from the city’s inhabitants, industries and businesses, which is caused by dynamic economic growth and development of Lima. The depleting groundwater levels pose a serious risk to the future operations of Backus Brewery.
This has led Backus Brewery and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GIZ to come together as a business and development agency to initiate the Water Futures Partnership Peru. The Partnership has set itself the strategic vision of working toward the improvement and sustainability of ground water use, as a source to meet human consumption and the operational and development needs of the main industrial facilities located in Rímac river’ downstream watershed.
The aim of the Water Futures Partnership in Peru is to reduce the risks to the sustainable management of water resources in the lower basin of the Rimac River through a strategic platform for companies; with the mission to reach agreements and implement, in a shared, projects and measures to mitigate the shared water risks.
Given the critical implications of groundwater depletion for Lima’s businesses and communities, Backus Brewery and GIZ have partnered to try and address the issue by conducting detailed assessments of the socio-economic and hydrological risks facing the Rimac watershed.
The assessments identified three key areas for investment:
- Improving the groundwater aquifer's recharge
- Reducing the use of groundwater
- Creating and developing an aquifer monitoring and evaluation system
A set of projects designed in consultation with the local government has been developed around these three areas and Backus Brewery and GIZ are in the process of securing investment for the projects through Lima’s municipal government. A range of water-using businesses are also being approached to secure further support. With water scarcity posing a real risk to businesses across Lima, interest in this initiative has been high.
Component I: Improving Aquifer Recharge
This component aims to increase the aquifer’s natural recharge and thereby achieve a more sustainable balance between groundwater extraction and recharge. The partnership plans to facilitate aquifer recharge by repairing irrigation canals at critical points and erecting screens within the Rimac river bed.
Component II: Reducing Use of Ground Water
Public open spaces in Ate and Santa Anita districts of Lima are irrigated using contaminated water drawn from the irrigation canal network and potable water supplied by Lima’s local water supply company (SEDAPAL). These practices cause contamination of the underlying aquifer and use up precious groundwater resources. Instead, the partnership plans to irrigate green areas with treated recycled water from the Backus y Johnston plants and other companies nearby.
Component III: Creating and Developing an Aquifer Monitoring and Evaluation System
Access to technical information about groundwater conditions, future availability of water and industrial demand for water is urgently needed to assist Backus and other Lima-based companies in assessing water risks to their operations. The partnership therefore plans to create an aquifer monitoring and evaluation system. A panel of technical experts will gather information about the aquifer as well as develop aquifer research and development projects.
Progress and challenges
Having started activities to mitigate shared water risks, we have managed to:
- Develop an aquifer diagnostic study and aquifer behaviour assessment.
- Identify a project portfolio for the sustainability of the Rimac River aquifer.
- Develop a stakeholder mapping located in the area of influence of the Rimac River aquifer.
The main challenge of the Water Futures Partnership in Peru is to establish an alliance with at least two private socially responsible companies, concerned about developing actions to reduce their water consumption and protect the aquifer from the Rimac River Basin, in the context of water stress in Lima.