Peruvian authorities debate possible water consumption tax


Though Peru has plenty of natural water resources, 80 percent is used for agriculture, leaving less for home and other uses. (Photo: El Comercio)

Today, World Water Day, Peruvian authorities are debating how best to handle this all-important resource throughout the country. Many measures have been proposed to improve water management, but few have been implemented. Peru’s national water authority, whose Spanish acronym is ANA, has announced that an investment of $8.7 million would be necessary to build the infrastructure to allow for a more efficient administration of this resource.

To help cover some of this investment, head of ANA Carlos Pagador has proposed a selective tax on water consumption, that would be applied to agricultural and urban properties. He explained that such a tax would generate the necessary income to use water from the rivers in the Amazon, build dams along the coast, rehabilitate soils with high salinity, improve the use of underground streams and prevent the flooding of lagoons and rivers.

Fernando Cillóniz, president of Inform@cción, believes that beyond charging based on the number of hectares for large estates, the measure would have to charge an amount proportional to water consumption for each lot. “There are big lots that consume very little water due to high-tech irrigation systems and other technology,” he said.

José Calderón, assistant director of the “Agronegocios” magazine, says that the ANA measure is unpopular but courageous. “There is definitely a lot of concern about how to improve efficient use of water in the agricultural exports sector,” he said. According to Pagador, this sector consumes 80 percent of the available water in Peru.

Ana María González, vice minister of the environment, has told Inforegión that it is necessary to install improved technology such as drip irrigation to optimize water use in the agricultural sector. She added that it is important to promote treatment for drinking water and reuse of water in the home, especially along the Peruvian coast, which contains less than 2 percent of the country’s water resources but 65 percent of the total population.