EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Avoiding Day Zero water crisis management La Paz

Harm Nomden1, Michel Riemersma2, Adrian Zamora2, Hidde Kats2, Ric Huting2, Wouter Engel2, and Tomas Quisbert3
Harm Nomden et al.
  • 1Sweco, Water, the Netherlands (
  • 2Royal HaskoningDHV, Amersfoort, the Netherlands (
  • 3EPSAS, La Paz, Bolivia

Bolivia, November 2016: the reservoirs high in the mountains around the city of La Paz completely dried out after an dry year, limiting the supply of (drinking) water to the city. Heavy rationing had to take place over a period of 6 weeks, resulting in social unrest. 

The drinking water company EPSAS is responsible for the water supply to the city and region. Over the period 2016-2030, the number of inhabitants will grow from 1.6 to 2.1 million and the water demand increases with 58% while raw water resources are limited and further constrained (climate change and loss of glaciers). To cope with these conditions, the supply infrastructure will double in size: from 3 to 6 treatment plants and from 14 to 26 reservoirs spread over 9 catchments. Total water storage capacity doubles from 54 hm3 to 110 hm3. Additional stream intakes are constructed to extract water, water can even be pumped over the mountains in dry periods. Water is transported from the reservoirs to plants via pipe lines, channels and free flowing streams.

A continuously changing and expanding reservoir network, signifies an increase in complexity, more choices to be made on a daily and weekly basis by the operational staff, influencing (forecasted) water availability. Since 2016 Royal HaskoningDHV and EPSAS have been working together to develop a Monitoring & Decision Support System which is able to monitor the water availability and the status of the catchments, generate hydrological forecasts and optimize (future) use of available raw water resources.

This is done by:

  • installing a system of 40-60 monitoring stations at all dams and upstream in all catchments - monitoring water levels, discharges, extraction volumes and meteorological variables. New to be constructed telemetry stations will send all data to the control room;
  • developing an operational software system to translate measured variables into water volumes and other indicators; to generate hydrological run-off forecasts using advanced hydrological models; to optimize the distribution of water over the reservoirs and the use of water; and forecast resulting water availability and shortages over the coming 18 months. The system generates forecasts and advices on a daily or weekly basis, as defined by the user.

How to cite: Nomden, H., Riemersma, M., Zamora, A., Kats, H., Huting, R., Engel, W., and Quisbert, T.: Avoiding Day Zero water crisis management La Paz, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8811,, 2022.


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