“It’s going to change our lives”: 26 families in Luanco, Chile, celebrate the first milestone on the path to their future Rural Drinking Water system

They couldn’t believe that something they had desired for so long would arrive so quickly. Thanks to “Desafio Agua para Chile”, a CMPC driven initiative with the support of Desafío Levantemos Chile, families in a rural area of Los Angeles, Biobio region, can now rely on a much-needed resource. 

It’s worth noting that the program gave the greenlight to another two projects in Nacimiento, particularly in Palmilla and La Esperanza, and there are another seven currently in progress for this year. Over 2 thousand families already benefit from the program in Biobio and La Araucania.

Residents depended on water trucks for their drinking water, and couldn’t wash clothes because local water would stain them. That was their reality until Monday April 8th when life really began to change for those living in the area of Luanco, about 30 kilometers north of urban Los Angeles, capital of the province of Biobio. That afternoon saw the laying of the first stone for the Rural Drinking Water project, indication of a promise for change being fulfilled, and a promise for greater wellbeing for all 26 families on the committee. 

The lack of public investment in stable infrastructure providing a much-needed resource for the rural areas of Biobio and La Araucania is glaringly obvious. The project as defined within the framework of the “Desafio Agua para Chile” program is broad in its scope, and gains much from the collaboration between private and public sectors. The program is driven by CMPC working in conjunction with Desafio Levantemos Chile

Olga Navarrete, president of the Luanco Rural Drinking Water Committee celebrated breaking ground which will soon provide highly anticipated water for their community, and after only 2 years of project management. “It makes me happy to my core, because we really didn’t expect it to happen so fast. It’s exciting, we never really thought it would work out this way. We had seen how other communities fared when they lobbied for fresh drinking water and the wait was years long, and now for us, thank God, it’s already a reality” she states happily.

“The water turned yellow” 

Victor Yañez, a neighbor in the region, remembers their arrival, when water was plentiful, but over time, water for human consumption began to taper off, as the slight yellow color was off-putting and made them question its suitability for drinking. “Water was entirely off coming out of the faucet, it went yellow, you couldn’t wash clothes and you couldn’t drink it. White clothes come out of the wash yellow and it had a horrible taste. This is going to change our lives”, another committee director relates. Water tanks, which would come around periodically, were soon forgotten once building on the project began. 

The municipality has spearheaded the design and digging of the well, while CMPC will provide water treatment facilities, collection systems and a distribution network. The goal is to guarantee that those families benefitting from the project will have secure and sustainable access to water in their homes. On the latter, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Esteban Krause, comments: “This is important because today, more than ever, it is of vital importance people are supplied with potable water. With CMPC not only are we working on this project, but we are also making progress on other important initiatives for the city of Los Angeles, such as the Botanical Garden and Mapuche Silver-smithing projects. This is an example of what can be achieved when private entities, communities and municipalities come together to do great things”. 

At CMPC the head of the Community Outreach program, Mr. Christian Santibañez, explains: “building is slated to take three months. No doubt this drinking water project will contribute toward local development by providing a concrete solution for the residents’ needs. Luanco has begun a new chapter in the history of its community, and demonstrates that together, collaborating in their efforts, you can make dreams come true”. 

The Roadmap for Desafio Agua Para Chile

This year, “Desafio Agua para Chile” has 7 projects in the works, three of which are for water consumption in Mulchen, Nacimiento and Los Angeles, which will provide service for 107 families. They are also the driving force behind two other projects working to improve RDW (Rural Drinking Water) projects in Yumbel and Angol, which will ultimately impact positively on 257 family groups. Lastly, there is an irrigation project in Cholchol, and a RDW study in Collipulli which will benefit about a hundred families. In this fashion the roadmap for access to water looks increasingly more auspicious for families living in the south of Chile, families that really only want the most basic of living conditions, to live in dignity and prosper.