Fog Water Collection Project Tour / Welcome to Coquimbo / Winery and the Paloma Dam Tour

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Because of the extremely low rainfall in the Coquimbo Region the importance of utilizing water resources in an effective and economical way has seen the construction of several dams in the transversal valleys which  run from the high cordillera of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean. These splendid engineering projects have also given rise to touristic opportunities especially in fishing and wind surfing but they also provide splendid subjects for photography  capturing these picturesque artificial lakes in the midst of the multicoloured  coastal mountain ranges in this semi arid desert  landscape.









Elqui Valley: Puclaro Dam

This project  was started in 1996 and completed ready for opening in October 1999.  It was the most important engineering project in the last 25 years in the Province of Elqui harnessing the precious waters of the Elqui river to foster the valley agriculture. The dam is situated 50 kilometers from La Serena, the height of the curtain is 83 meters with a length of  600 meters. When filled have the capacity of 200,million cubic meters of water and stretch up the valley for 7 kilometers. The dam has been constructed by a unique project combining Chilean labour, funding and Brazilian dam technology and has also involved the building of a new eight kilometer  stretch of highway, Route 41, including a 370 meter long tunnel, which was built above the dam's fill level.










Limari Valley-The Paloma Irrigation System

The Paloma Irrigation System  is composed of three interconnected dams and an extensive net of canals formed by : the Paloma Dam, the nearby Cogotí Dam and the Recoleta Dam in the Hurtado River Valley.  This is the largest irrigation system in Chile and the  second largest in South America.The Paloma Dam is the primary member of this system and is located in the Limari Valley at the confluence of the Grande and  Huatulame  rivers.  The dam has a capacity of 750 million cubic meters and a surface area of 3000 hectares.  The Paloma's curtain is essentially an earthen wall covered by a screen of concrete that is 9100 meters long and 80 meters high.









The  Cogoti  Dam

is built at the confluence of the Cogotí and Pama rivers and was constructed in 1939.  It is a rock fill dam with a sloping concrete curtain and covers 850 hectares with a holding capacity of 150 million cubic meters.  The dam is used primarily for irrigation use and nourishes the vibrant agricultural complex of the southern Limarí Valley.

The  Recolta  Dam

is the oldest of  the three dams begun in 1929 and completed  in 1934 , although the feeder canal was not constructed until 1947.  With a capacity of only 97 million cubic meters and a surface area of 555 hectares it is situated at the confluence of the Hurtado and Higuerillas  rivers, 18 kilometers northeast of Ovalle.











Fog Water Collection Project

Fifty kilometers to the north of La Serena is the isolated village of Chungungo where most people in the village eke out a meager living diving for abalone and crab.  Sunlight is sparse in this semi arid desert as a thick depressing fog called the "camanchaca" rolls incessantly in off the sea and pushes up against the coastal mountain  range of 900 meters where it condenses due to the intense evaporation.  "El Tofo" is a unique fog water collection system of 72 nets, each 4 meters wide and 12 meters high which supply water to a 2,500 gallon tank and then into the homes of the village. 










Scientists say that this system of fog water collection could be repeated in many other towns around the world where semi arid conditions prevail and water is a very scare and expensive resource.   






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