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Water & Electricity Shortages in Chile
02-21-08, 3:10 pm
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From AP via Yahoo: Chile Declares State of Emergency As Drought Threatens Farms, Electricity Supply

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — One of Chile’s worst droughts in 50 years has parched farms and drained local water supplies, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in 30 municipalities on Wednesday.More than a quarter of the country’s 345 municipalities have faced urgent water shortages in recent weeks, pushing the government to spend more than $13 million to tap underground water deposits and send cistern trucks to water livestock and crops.”If we have to declare every municipality in the country in emergency, we will,” presidential spokesman Francisco Vidal said. “The only thing we can’t do is make rain.”

The eight-month-long drought will “inevitably trigger price hikes on some produce,” warned Luis Schmidt, president of Chile’s largest farmers’ association, the National Agriculture Society.

Chile’s government has called the drought its worst in a half century.

Water shortages are also threatening electricity supply, as Chile relies on hydroelectric power for 60 percent of its energy, the government said.

To prevent power rationing, officials cut voltage across the country by 10 percent, distributed more efficient light bulbs and extended daylight savings time by two weeks through last Saturday in March.   (from Wry: Chile’s voltage is usually 220, ours in the US is 120.)

The drought is in part caused by La Nina, a weather pattern marked by a drop in Pacific Ocean temperatures that slows evaporation and rain in some regions, while causing heavy showers and flooding in others, said Claudia Villarreal, a meteorologist for Chile’s Weather Service.

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