Urban Water Metabolism in the World's Driest Desert

by Camilo Prats
(Atacama, Chile)

With areas that have not seen rain for more than 400 years, Atacama is classified as the world’s driest desert.

Assuming that the water scarcity and extreme climatic conditions could be a common scenario for many other areas in the future, Atacama is considered a natural laboratory for many scientists.

Urban Metabolism

This short film, developed by I+T Film Sessions (Innovation + Territory) shows a new study conducted by the University of Chile and MIT to understand the Water Metabolism in the Urban Atacama.

Rivers in Atacama had played a key role for the history of its human settlements. Concentrating 54% of the population in the administrative region of Atacama, the city of Copiapó had not seen the river that gave it life since the year 2002.



Competing with mining industry and agriculture, urban water is not just scarce and with the highest costs among Chilean regions, it is also the origin of several health problems.

How do we study water in cities? What we can learn about these cities in the middle of the most arid desert? Which is the relation between these cities and its regional economies?

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