Community exposure and vulnerability to water quality and availability: a case study in the mining-affected Pazña Municipality, Lake Poopó Basin, Bolivian Altiplano
Blanco Coariti, E
Sánchez Miranda, O
© The Author(s) 2017. Open access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Assessing water sources for drinking and irrigation along with community vulnerability, especially in developing and rural regions, is important for reducing risk posed by poor water quality and limited water availability and accessibility. We present a case study of rural mining-agricultural communities in the Lake Poopó Basin, one of the poorest regions on the Bolivian Altiplano. Here, relatively low rainfall, high evaporation, salinization and unregulated mining activity have contributed to environmental degradation and water issues, which is a situation facing many Altiplano communities. Social data from 72 households and chemical water quality data from 27 surface water and groundwater sites obtained between August 2013 and July 2014 were used to develop locally relevant vulnerability assessment methodologies and ratings with respect to water availability and quality, and Chemical Water Quality Hazard Ratings to assess water quality status. Levels of natural and mining-related contamination in many waters (CWQHR ≥ 6; 78% of assessed sites) mean that effective remediation would be challenging and require substantial investment. Although waters of fair to good chemical quality (CWQHR ≤ 5; 22% of assessed sites) do exist, treatment may still be required depending on use, and access issues remain problematic. There is a need to comply with water quality legislation, improve and maintain basic water supply and storage infrastructure, build and operate water and wastewater treatment plants, and adequately and safely contain and treat mine waste. This study serves as a framework that could be used elsewhere for assessing and mitigating water contamination and availability affecting vulnerable populations.
This project was funded by the University College London (UCL) Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) under the initiative of water risk and its management in Bolivia’s Altiplano development strategy, which was led by Stephen Edwards. The Natural Environment Research Council Probability, Uncertainty and Risk in the Environment grant PA13-010 (risk visualisation and quantification for enhanced disaster risk reduction) to Stephen Edwards informed the approach to and outputs from the project.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Springer Verlag via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 60 (4), pp. 555 - 573
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © The Author(s) 2017. Open access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.