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Drought-Stressed Chile Is Reining In Its Privatized Water Model

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  • Senators approve changes to water code in a unanimous vote
  • Bill includes use-it-or-lose-it rules for water entitlements
A government official measures water flow in Maule, Chile.
A government official measures water flow in Maule, Chile. Photographer: Tamara Merino/Bloomberg

Chilean senators approved a decade-old bill to reform the country’s water code, including setting horizons on entitlements and enshrining access as a human right.

In a unanimous vote late Tuesday, lawmakers pushed through a package of changes that include capping currently unlimited water rights at a maximum of 30 years and empowering regulators to suspend rights that aren’t being used or if supplies are at risk. Agriculture accounts for most water consumption in Chile, which is a major exporter of fruit and wine as well as copper and lithium.