Authorities predict that Colombia’s current drought will be particularly severe due to the “El Niño” effect, while water rationing has already begun in several regions.
According to a report released Friday by the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), the drought which began in earnest in November is predicted to be powerful due to the “El Niño” phenomenon, leading to an elevated risk of forest fires on the Caribbean coast, the Andean region and the eastern plains.
Rain is expected to be scarce throughout December, and IDEAM says that “soil will maintain low moisture content, reaching values below the monthly average, with a predominance of very dry spells,” reported newspaper El Espectador Friday.
Due to El Niño, authorities warn that the drought in Colombia is likely to last until April 2010 and result in generally low water levels and a moisture deficit.
Colombia’s vice minister for water and sanitation, Leyal Rojas, revealed that drinking-water restrictions have already begun in 50 municipalities across the country.
Rojas explained that among the measures to be implemented with regard to the water shortage will be the prohibition of the use of more than 40,000 litres of water per household per month. Sanctions will be imposed upon those who waste water or use more than their share.
IDEAM stated that current water levels are below the historical average and, in some cases, lower than the last extreme drought cases registered in 1997.
Today’s low water levels have meant that Colombia has had to temporarily suspend dispatches of energy to neighbouring countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela.