Futaleufú Riverkeeper Advocates for Water Reserve Designation - Waterkeeper

Futaleufú Riverkeeper Advocates for Water Reserve Designation

By: Waterkeeper Alliance

This year Futaleufú Riverkeeper celebrated ten years working to protect the Futaleufú River.  It’s been a long journey of ups and downs since we began with the clear mission of impeding the construction of dams on the Futaleufú River.  Today we can say that this threat has diminished almost completely. To ensure that this is the case long into the future, we’re pushing for a designated Water Reserve on the Futaleufú River to be declared via presidential decree.  

Water Reserve is a legal tool established in Chile’s Water Code that, once declared, limits how much water can be granted via water rights.  Of Chile’s 1,251 rivers, this tool has only been applied to 7 of them. 

Since 1995 Endesa (now Enel) held the water rights of the Futalefú River with the intention of damming it. After the community and communications campaign Futaleufú Without Dams, Endesa returned its water rights in 2016 and for the first time the waters of the Futaleufú were no longer threatened.  As long as the current Water Code is the regulatory framework for Chile’s Rivers, however, we haven’t totally escaped the threat of another dam project. 

Now we find ourselves in an opportune moment to reserve a significant quantity of the Futaleufú’s volume, ensuring that it will flow freely in the future.

The Water Reserve would limit the amount of water rights available for non-consumptive use, putting an end to the threat of dams on the river. This initiative is moving forward quickly and it’s been beautiful to watch the Futaleufú community come together once again in defense of its rivers. 

In the case of other rivers in Chile that have applied this tool, Chile’s General Direction of Waters (DGA) has led the initiative.  This is the first time a private organization like Fundación Futaleufú Riverkeeper has prepared a technical report as well as citizen participation opportunities that, together, highlight the need and local desire to create a water reserve. We have worked arduously for months on this project and sincerely need financial support to continue our progress.

To date, the comprehensive report has been given to the Environmental Minister and regional and national authorities within the DGA. This has been accompanied by letters of support from local community organizations, neighborhood associations, tourism groups, scientific support, and local and regional politicians. We are hopeful that in the near future the Rio Futaleufú Water Reserve will be a reality. This year our efforts are focused on this project and we need your involvement now more than ever.     

It is an honor to share with you a part of what we do at Futaleufú Riverkeeper, and I remind you that this work is yours too. Without the enormous support of our donor network, volunteers, collaborators, allies, friends, and families, none of this would be possible.  From my heart to yours I thank you, for beating with us in the same frequency of love for Chilean Patagonia’s wild rivers. Learn how you can support this work here