University of Twente Student Theses


Analysis of the hydrologic sources in the Cotahuasi river basin

Breemen, Maarten van (2007) Analysis of the hydrologic sources in the Cotahuasi river basin.

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Abstract:The project was carried out in the Cotahuasi river basin, which contributes to the Ocoña river, one of Peru's most important rivers of the coastal zone. The area is very rugged and remote and characterized by extreme differences in height. It is home to the deepest canon in the world and assigned as protected area because of its richness in biodiversity. The population however is amongst the poorest and least developed of Peru and most of them descend from the indigenous population of Peru. The objective of the project is to gather information about the quantity and quality of the hydrologic sources in the Cotahuasi river basin to make recommendations for a sustainable use in agreement with the local communities. Water is present in the forms of glaciers, rivers, streams, springs, meadow wetlands, mountain streams and lakes. In all of the Andes mountain chain glaciers have been declining the past decades and therefore the storage of water as well. The soils are vulnerable for erosion and desertification but are fertile. Climate, vegetation and fauna are very diverse trough the valley which is caused by the differences in height. The valley has been populated for thousands of years and many of the slopes have terraces and irrigation systems to make them suitable for agriculture. Since the coming of the Spanish conquerors the development of the area has ceased and currently one of the major problems is the migration of young people out of the region. From way back the irrigation water was divided equally amongst all users. The Spanish disrupted this system and only recently the partitioning of water starts to improve by the establishment of irrigation commissions and committees. The area is thread by new developments in the way the people use the natural resources. Agriculture and livestock breeding used to be sustainable for centuries but nowadays they are exploited in an irresponsible way. The hydrologic sources in the basin were measured in co-operation with the national institute for natural resources. They provided a format and carried out most fieldwork. In total 131 lakes, 676 streams, 27 rivers and 556 springs were measured. The reliability of these data is however questionable. Generally the quantity was more important for INRENA than quality. Especially the measurements of the flows of streams and springs can be considered unreliable. The conclusions are that the irrigation infrastructure is in a poor shape. Not only caused by a lack of maintenance but also by incorrect constructions. The management of the irrigation systems has improved with the establishments of more irrigation commissions and committees. However the lack of young workforce restrains the development of the area. There are too little reliable data available to confirm the supposed decline in the offer of water. In the high and remote parts water is available abundantly. The local population is not enough aware of the vulnerability of the area and the irresponsible way they exploit their natural resources. To attract young people the area needs a significant economic boost. With a recovered age structure the neglected infrastructure could be improved. The task of monitoring can best me handed over to the local commission and/or committees as this can be done with simple equipment. The population should be informed about the vulnerability of the area and in what way they can contribute to a sustainable development of the area.
Item Type:Internship Report (Bachelor)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering BSc (56952)
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