Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile


Revista : The Geology of Chile, British Geological Society
Tipo de publicación : Otros


This chapter examines the main characteristics of surface waters and groundwater deposits in Chile. The extreme variations in Chilean climate are reflected directly by huge differences in hydrological conditions, from the deserts of the north to the temperate rainforests of the south. The mountainous geomorphology, the presence of major basins, and the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the South Pole on oceanic currents and air masses, all also affect water distribution across the country. Anthropogenic demand for water resources, mostly for municipal wastewater, industry and agriculture, has created pollution problems that are currently being dealt with by application of new environmental legislation. Such problems are particularly acute in the north, where scarce water deposits, already commonly contaminated by naturally occurring metalliferous deposits, have been affected by extensive mining operations. In the centre of the country, where most of the population lives, the main challenges to a high quality water supply have been more associated with treating municipal wastewater. Further south, threats to clean water resources are often associated with effluents from cellulose plants and aquaculture.