Río Rocha: Integrated wastewater management to improve water quality
Title: Cortimex III: Integrated water management to address wastewater discharge into the River Rocha
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Partner: Bolivia: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua (MMAyA)/Ministry of Environment and Water (MMAyA), Autonomous government of Cochabamba Department, Autonomous municipal government of Sacaba, Mexico: Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA /National Water Commission (CONAGUA), Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua (IMTA)/Mexican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA)
Lead executing agency: Bolivia: Viceministerio de Inversión Pública y Financiamiento Externo (VIPFE)/Vice-Ministry of Public Investment and External Financing (VIPFE), Mexico: Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AMEXCID)/Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID)
Overall term: 2017 to 2019, completed
The Rocha is the main river in Bolivia’s Cochabamba Department. Over 1.3 million people, about 76 per cent of the Department’s population, live in its catchment basin. Rapid population growth, especially in the cities, has boosted industrial activity in the region and consequently increased the demand for water. More wastewater is being discharged into the River Rocha, affecting its water quality and damaging the environment. An additional problem is that there are not enough treatment plants to deal with the wastewater. Surface and groundwater pollution is endangering public health. This is illustrated by the fact that Cochabamba is currently the city with the highest number of acute diarrhoea cases in Bolivia.
A model for safe wastewater disposal restores the water quality in the long term, revitalises the river and its surroundings and helps to improve the health of the population.
In a triangular cooperation arrangement, Mexico and Germany are supporting Bolivia in developing an ecological rescue plan for the most important water bodies in the Rocha River basin. To achieve this, the various economic activities in the region will be considered and the major sources of pollution identified. The goal is to restore water quality, revitalise the river and its surroundings and in doing so safeguard health. Other plans include introducing wastewater treatment technologies in the municipality of Sacaba and re-using the treated wastewater in agriculture, for example.
The project also includes a social outreach strategy to help raise public awareness of environmental sustainability. It supports, for example, a group of women experts who are promoting communication about environmental issues and about a new ‘culture around water’. Based on the assumption that women and children are at serious risk from the impacts of pollution and climate change, the strategy includes dissemination and educational measures tailored specifically to these two groups.
An observation centre has the remit of monitoring the water quality of the River Rocha. To this end, it collects relevant data and disseminates indicators of water quality and water management to ensure that the population participates in protecting water resources. To ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of these measures, the project will make use of the advisory services offered by the Mexican partners, which are based on their experience and expertise in water quality restoration and remediation.