Peru's Water Worries

We recently had a group of visitors from our home church in North Carolina. They knew we lived in a desert, but they couldn't believe it was "THAT dry." We laughed as they snapped pictures of a cactus that had died from lack of water. It really is so dry that even a cactus can't survive.

About 70 percent of Peru's population lives along the Pacific coast in one of the driest deserts on earth. For decades the government has relied on melting glaciers and water pumped from the rain forest to support the growing coastal cities. Now scientists here in Peru and around the world are worried that Peru is only just beginning to see it's water troubles. Peru has the largest number of tropical glaciers on earth. These glaciers are important for providing water in the driest seasons of the year. They have melted and are now one-third smaller than they were just 20 years ago. The government is also concerned because about 80 percent of the nation's electrical power comes from hydro-electric plants. Deminishing water flows could be devistating to this growing country.

On an average day the city of Lima has less than one year's supply of reserve water. If a drought occured in the high Andes and lasted more than two years the taps would run dry in Lima. The local water company has now started showing a chart of the reserve on our water bill. (A simple "hint" to conserve this valuable resource.) The opinion of many is that in a few decades a barrel of water will cost more than a barrel of oil. We often say we are taking the "Water of Life to the deserts of Peru." It seems that desert is getting drier everyday!