From: Reuters
Published March 11, 2008 06:02 PM

Peru bets on desalination to ensure water supplies

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru plans to start desalinating water from the Pacific Ocean to make up for declining supplies from fast-melting glaciers affected by climate change, President Alan Garcia said on Tuesday.

The Andean nation relies for fresh water mostly on rivers, some of which descend the dry western slopes of the Andes and are partly fed by large tropical glaciers that are melting at an unprecedented rate.

Garcia said Peru must develop an alternate, more secure source by pumping water from the ocean and desalinating it.

"We can't think about the future with yesterday's plans. We must use modern technology and this will happen as we treat ocean water," Garcia said at the opening of a conference on desalination.

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Treating sea water would be cheaper than pumping water over the Andes or from the Amazon rain forest to the coast, where most people live. Lima, Peru's capital and home to 9 million people, is located in a coastal desert.

Doosan Hydro Technology, a unit of South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co Ltd that specializes in desalination, may build two plants on Peru's coast to supply water to more than a million people, the government said.

Companies and cities in South America are increasingly looking to the ocean for a solution to the problem declining water supplies due to climate change. Mines in Chile and Peru, both major mineral producers, have started relying on desalination plants.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Terry Wade and Eric Walsh)

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