Conservationists in Chile aim to freeze water in man-made glaciers

SANTIAGO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A group of Chilean climate experts wants to take advantage of Southern Hemisphere winter rains to freeze water in artificial glaciers, to be used in the dry months of December-February.

Inspired by an initiative created in India, the Nilus project is under development in the summits of the Cajon del Maipo, a mountain range southeast of Chilean capital Santiago.

The goal is to store 100 million liters (26.4 million gallons) of water next year.

"Nilus seeks to help resolve the huge water crisis that we are facing both in Chile and the world," Enrique Gellona, ​​director of the project, told Reuters.

An "Ice-Stupa," or an artificial glacier, is seen as part of a project to combat the lack of water lack at Cajon del Maipo area, on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, August 31, 2021. Picture taken August 31, 2021. Proyecto Nilus/Handout via REUTERS

"We are looking for a solution that actually allows us to protect water for a longer time in the mountain range, and then deliver it to communities downstream," he added.

The prototype for the project is in Parque Arenas, at the highest part of the Cajon. There the water is to be captured and frozen thanks to very low nighttime temperatures.

The promoters of the project want to develop 50 water storage units, called "stupas", which would be equivalent to 100 million liters of water in solid state.

"This would serve to supply more or less a community of 100,000 people for three months," said Nilus engineer Roberto Lara, who hopes to complete the project's first cycle n 2022.

Chile, the world's top copper producer, has faced severe dryness for years. Researches and environmental activists have warned that glaciers in the Andes Mountains are in retreat.

Reporting by Natalia Ramos, writing by Hugh Bronstein

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