(CNN) The president of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, announced at a press conference on Monday that he had decreed a “water emergency for the metropolitan area” of Montevideo to help control the drinking water supply crisis in the capital.
The main reservoir of fresh water that feeds more than 60% of the country’s population is at historic lows, and this has led the state company Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE) to carry out a different mixing of the available water for almost four weeks. This means taking part of the water from a source closer to the Río de la Plata: an estuary that receives salty ocean waters.
For this reason, the water that flows in the pipes of the capital of Uruguay has, in addition to the salty taste, a high level of chlorides, sodium and trihalomethanes, for which the Ministry of Public Health has issued warnings of treatment for hypertensive people, people with heart failure and renal failure, as well as recommending short showers to avoid ingesting too much trihalomethane through steam.
At the conference, Lacalle Pou assured that “the water supply is guaranteed”, but warned that “the values” of chloride and sodium in the water which, according to health criteria, could not be considered drinkable, “will certainly increase”.
Therefore, within the decree on the water emergency, the government has decided to exempt taxes on bottled water to try to lower its price. “Because of this tax exemption, we assume that the price has to go down. Without the taxes being charged there should have been a significant drop,” he said.
The president explained that the declaration of a water emergency “allows for faster and easier legal processes”.