A tender process is currently underway for the construction of a new dam in Chile’s central Valparaiso (V) region, through a project that would draw water from the Aconcagua River Basin near the areas of San Felipe and Los Andes.
The water project is set to provide irrigation water for 26,530 hectares of land in the area of Catemu, delivering what the government expects to be an 85% level of irrigation security.
The works would take place 14km from Catemu with 180 million cubic meters of water, allowing for the irrigation of 3,236 agricultural properties.
According to the Ministry of Public Works’ General Directorate for Concessions, the project involves a concrete face rockfill dam (CFRD) structure that is 1,200 meters long and 65 meters high, together with a 25km feeding canal from the Aconcagua River Basin.
Valparaiso Region Agricultural Secretary Ricardo Astorga told Fresh Fruit Portal the irrigation security brought by the project would allow for growers to commit to investments over time while improving the quality of production.
“When there is a low availability of water and growers don’t get optimal irrigation, what happens is that the quality of fruit is reduced, so it’s primordial to ensure water resources for existing plantations,” Astorga said.
He said around half of the region’s productive surface area is for fruit production that is exported overseas.
“We have fields of avocados and citrus that will benefit, where a high percentage is for export,” Astorga said.
He said eventually the project could lead to a potential 20% increase in the area of irrigated productive land, including evaluations for converting properties into fruit orchards.