Colombian President Declares Civic Day to Conserve Water and Electricity Amid Drought Crisis

Colombian President declares nationwide civic day to reduce water and electricity consumption amid severe drought, urging Bogotá residents to leave the city for the weekend to ease pressure on reservoirs.

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Colombian President Declares Civic Day to Conserve Water and Electricity Amid Drought Crisis

Colombian President Declares Civic Day to Conserve Water and Electricity Amid Drought Crisis

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has declared Friday, April 19, 2024, a civic day nationwide to reduce water and electricity consumption amid critically low reservoir levels caused by an El Niño-induced drought. The objective of this special day is to encourage people to minimize their water and energy usage, especially in major cities facing water stress.

Petro made the announcement with less than 12 hours' notice during an annual ceremony for the military, in what was described as an "unprecedented and strong symbolic " move. He emphasized the urgency of taking concrete measures to address the environmental situation, particularly in the capital city of Bogotá.

The president urged the 8 million residents of Bogotá to leave the city for the weekend to reduce pressure on the drought-hit water reservoirs. The main reservoirs that provide water to Bogotá have dropped to only 15.3% of total capacity. Across Colombia, the average reservoir levels have fallen below 29% of total capacity, just above the critical level of 27% that could trigger power outages.

Why this matters: The drought crisis in Colombia threatens to paralyze the country, as it normally gets about two-thirds of its electricity from hydropower. The government is taking urgent measures to prevent potential blackouts and manage the water shortage, which could have severe consequences for the population and economy.

The civic day will result in the suspension of work and educational activities in the public sector, while private companies and citizens can decide whether to observe the day as non-working. However, the Judicial branch and the Legislature have rejected Petro's decree, stating that essential public services will be provided normally on that day.

In addition to the civic day, the government is implementing other measures to address the crisis, such as getting thermal power plants to operate at full capacity and creating awareness campaigns for people to reduce their use of water and electricity. Bogotá has already implemented 24-hour rotational water rationing to manage the shortage.

President Petro called on citizens to voluntarily reduce their electricity and drinking water usage as much as possible, warning that if it does not rain soon, the situation will worsen due to the climate crisis. He highlighted that the water emergency in Bogotá and other areas is a consequence of the ongoing climate challenges facing the country.

Key Takeaways

  • Colombian president declares April 19, 2024, a civic day to reduce water and electricity use.
  • Drought crisis threatens to paralyze Colombia, which gets 2/3 of electricity from hydropower.
  • Bogotá residents urged to leave city for weekend to reduce pressure on drought-hit reservoirs.
  • Government implements measures like thermal power plants, awareness campaigns, and water rationing.
  • President warns climate crisis worsening water emergency, calls for voluntary usage reduction.