Almost all Piura region will have to be intervened for preventing problems caused by the abundance of water - or its lack.
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By Nelson Peñaherrera Castillo
of the events increasing the vulneribility where the water of Piura
Region generates, were fires like this, affecting the Andean slopes in
Ayabaca and Huancabamba (photo) provinces during the second half of
Photo by Nature and Culture International, distributed by El Regional de Piura / file.
PIURA CITY, Peru
- One of the most extended prejudgges by the people visiting Piura is
believing that the whole territory is flat when the reality points
out that the Andean Range, from its first spurs, occupies its
half. And the fact is relevant when we want to explain natural
events like the floods during a El Niño time.
does not go down progressively to the sea but the coast is a sucession
of clifs, creeks, and even depressions under its level. Add to this two
valleys with completely different identities despite to be
separated by few miles.
That is the
reason why the officials have understood that the natural disasters
management is foreseable when there is a good basins integral
management, and we have three in Piura: two belonging to the Pacific
Broad Basin and one to the Amazon Broad Basin. Fron the two first, one
is binational, the Chira Basin, or Catamayo-Chira Basin most
approppriately, that is shared with ecuador's Loja Probince. The second
one is entirely Piura's - Piura, actually.
From those two
ones, the Piura Basin could be the most vulnerable of the region
due to its geographical particularities: it begins above 3000
meters or 9800 feet altitude, and trying to lead into the sea, it first
finds a depression superior to -30 meters or -100 feet. And like we
explain it before, to understand the critical point it means, we have
to remember that the water flows attracted by the terrestrial gravity
strategy for reducing risks linked to natural disasters in Piura Region
is working preventively in the causality zone (the right part of the
territory on the map, the east), so the impact area (the left side of
the territory on the map, the west) does not suffer from the abundance
of water, or its scarce.
[FACTORTIERRA.NET: The Piura's Weakest].
Graphic provided by CRHCCHP/GoRe Piura.
This has lead
the officials to propose a management plan working in two
completely different scenarios, the excess and the abscence of water.
has been declared regional interest by the Agreement 1443-2017 of
the Regional Council, and made as own by the Regional Government,
turning it into the leading prospective conceptual framework for
the reconstruction of Piura Region," the Regional Government of Piura
(GoRe Piura, as in Spanish) and the Regional Council For Hydric
Resources Of Chira-Piura Basin (CRHCCHP, as in Spanish) sustain on a
aspect is the Piura Basin has been artificially connected to
Chira's since 1948 when the Peruvian Government transferred
Quiroz River water to Chipillico River to start up the San Lorenzo
Valley, which began to establish since 1968. As a consequence, what
happens along the Quiroz course, that leads naturally into the Chira,
and even what happens at the Chipillico, that also leads into the
Chira, impacts in the Piura River due to the web of canals, drains, and
even natural spillways used by the San Lorenzo Dam.
francisco Creek is one of the main connectors between both basins
just beginning the medium course of Piura River, but down the water
there is another contact point, the Daniel Escobar Canal, built in the
1970s decade, for transferring directly the Chira River's stored
water in the Poechos Dam, ended and put in service during 1976. Unlike
the Piura, the Chira has a constant flow of water and it can reach
colossal loads when El Niño rains to be presented.
In short and
according to the CRHCCHP, it is about a 29852,86-square-kilometer
or 11526,25 square-mile land (similar to Armenia, in Asia).
The Piura Region's total surface is 35892 square kilometers or 13857,98
square miles (quite bigger than the state of Maryland), so the work
area equals 87,48% of its political demarcation. In fact, it covers 56
of the 65 districts located in the eight provinces of the territory,
where 1725488 people live.
Also, The Chira
is now the main sweet water source for the whole coast of the region,
especially the Piura Metro Area, where approximately 0,65 million
people live, according to 2017 Census.
main problem in Piura Basin lowlands is the Piura River does not lead
directly into the sea, but it first fill depressions at the Sechura
Desert. As many towns are just a couple of feet above the sea level, a
heavy rain is enough to boost a flash flood, like this in La Unión,
about 20 miles to the south of Piura City, on January 31st, 2017.
Photo by Eduardo Nizama/La Unión District Municipality/file.
Control The Cause, Control The Consequence
GoRe Piura and CRHCCHP, to save the lowlands of Piura it has to
work preventively at the highlands, what implies to intervene
"... fundamentally at the zone of the causality by regulating the
load of the river for reducing the vulneribility at the impact zone,
mainly facing the danger of floods and water scarce in the Chira-Piura
In the specific
case of the Chira Basin, according to the proposal, it would be
necessary to intervene the summits and slopes in Lagunas,
Sapillica, and Frías Districts, all in Ayabaca Province. The main
problem is the deforestation, that accelerates the soil erosion and
causes its slide.
(with Pacaipampa and Ayabaca) concentrates the nascents of torrents and
creeks feeding the Quiroz River. In Sapillica, it happens something
similar with Chipillico River. Remember both feed the San Lorenzo
Valley, what, technically, is part of the Piura Basin.
located in Frías District does feed directly to the Piura River, mainly
through Sáncor and Yapatera Rivers,those lead up the water of San
Lorenzo Valley, and specifically to the south of Malingas Sector. When
those two peaceful flows load extraordinarily during the rainy periods,
break the road between the cities of Tambogrande and Chulucanas, the
same like San francisco and Carneros Creeks, in the middle of San
But, as it was
said previously, the authorities consider that the major priority is
along Piura River's course from its many nascents located in
Huarmaca, Canchaque, and Lalaquiz Districts, Huancabamba Province, and
particularily in Chalaco District, Morropón Province. Meanwhile in
Salitral District, Morropón, they consider it must join Huarmaca
District, Huancabamba, due to they share a forest what, also, is a
private area of conservation.
At this point,
the trick consists in guaranteeing the water supply toward the plains,
avoiding its flowing to be violent and destructive. The proposed task
is the conservation of the so-called green understructure: protecting
the natural forests and páramos, keeping the soils, and implementing
the Regional Fund of Water.
solution to prevent the overloads of Piura River could flood
aggresively in Piura lowlands is building reservoirs to download the
volume. One of the biggest is projected to be in La Matanza District,
one of the rainiest zones across the region. This is Laynas Sector, in
that district, receiving a heavy rain on March 24th, 2017.
Photo by Miguel Chávez, distributed by FACTORTIERRA.NET/file.
At the plains,
the proposal is building little reservoirs with enough storage
capability allowing to download the Piura River huge loads, so they do
not overcome 1700-to-2000-cubic-meter-per-second or
449k-to528K-gallon-per-second loads. Remember the flood of Piura, on
March 27th, 2017, was caused by a load over than 3400 cubic meter per
second or 898180 gallons per second.
plan of Piura Region authorities is building a network of reservoirs
along Piura River to download its violent overflows. Even building
spillways for the lakes at the depressions of the Sechura Desert.
Graphic provided by CRHCCHP/GoRePiura.
FACTORTIERRA.NET: The Conqueror's Mistake
would be located at Buenos Aires (La Maravilla Sector) and La Matanza
Districts, Morropón, and the Coscomba Area, 26 de Octubre District,
Piura Province. Their function would be to download the big volumes of
water and to hold them.
In all cases,
the river would be connected to the reservoirs through divertion
canals. In La Matanza case, it would be downloaded until 2500 cubic
meters per second or 660000 gallons per second, and hold 296 million
cubic meters or 780 billion gallons; in Coscomba, it would be
downloaded 1500 cubic meters per secon or 396200 gallons per second,
and hold 35 million cubic meters or 9,2 billion gallons.
A top source
said FACTORTIERRA.NET there are no plans yet to allow
seeing where they will be located specifically, how they will
And as the
Sechura Desert turns into a natural reservoir when its lakes overflow
and join, mainly Ramón Grande and La Niña, the project includes
to build a spillway to the sea, and there are three regardin proposals:
- The first one
could begin amid both lakes through the building of a 22-kilometer or
14-mile canal which could lead near where the sechura Drain
ends, at san Pedro Beach (Vice District).
- The second one
could start in the middle of La Niña and connect to the
Virrilá estuary, probably an ancient lead of Piura River or the
intermitent Cascajal River, through a 11-to-16-kilometer or
- The third one
could departure from the south of La Niña to Olmos Depression, at
Reventazón Beach, through a 26-kilometer or 16-mile canal.
In all cases, it
is about to reduce the existent water level to 4,5 meters or 15 feet
altitude for carrying it to the sea level. The gravity will do the rest
of the work.
"The matter is
Zapallal Formation, calcareus, called caliche [A surface deposit
containing sodium nitrate and other minerals], so the Piura River can
not erode it, and reaching this point, it begins to dam, flooding Piura
City and Lower Piura Valley," the CRHCCHP sustains; "this flow will
provide continuity and eases the La Niña Lake way-out to the sea."
peaceful San francisco Creek can become a huge and violent river when
it rains heavy between January and April. This actual photo, taken amid
Malingas and Palominos Sectors, Tambogrande District, shows how much it
can grow potentially.
Photo by Jhony Dioses for FACTORTIERRA.NET.
Benefit Or Risk?
However, in Coscomba Project case, there are two controversies.
anecdotal one is about the polder name assigned by the authorities, but
not correct as one specialist thinks. A polder is a land extension
gained to the sea through the building of a dam to hold the water,
which is furtherly pumped out for having big dry extensions of terrain.
The technique has been mostly used in Netherlands and Belgium since
14th century, and it has allowed to have more lands for the urban and
there was a German consultant who brought the term," a specialist said
us, "but the approppriate would be to say it is going to build a
divertion canal and a reservoir."
controversy is technical-type. It is supposed the idea of
Coscomba Project is building a divertion canal from up the water of Los
Ejidos Dam, North Piura Metro Area, bringing it along its western side
to a low point where the Coscomba Lagoon was once upon a time. For
Architect Julio Gianella, this is a bad idea because it could make all
this area prone to an eventual flood. So, itwould create another risk
area additional to the own course of the river's.
that, adding to reforestation at Andean summits, it would have to make
many low-capability reservoirs along Piura Basin, which go downloading
the eexcessive flow, and elliminating it for having the next load. He
affirms the idea is endorsed by other local scholars.
But the first
specialist debunked that to us based on an aritmetic criterion: the
proposed derivation canal can hold until 1300 cubic meters per second
or 343400 gallons per second, and the Piura River flow passing
through the regional capital city can support until 2500 cubic
meters per second or 660400 gallons per second. Then, a
3800-cubic-meter-per-second or 1,38-million-gallon-per-second load
could not represent any risk. Also, the water flow would be controlled
from Los Ejidos.
The question is what would happen if the Piura River receives loads over 3800 cubic meters per second, as happened in 1998.
The projected Coscomba Reservoir, in
26 de Octubre District, West Piura Metro Area, would try to save the
cities of Piura and Castilla when the Piura River threatens to
Graphic provided by CRHCCHP/GoRePiura.
Other actions in
this component are: to delimit the marginal strip of rivers and creeks,
annual dissedimentation (that includes the drains also), and to build
and to keep river defenses, plus to correct the course of the rivers
and to reinforce the bridges connecting the cities of Piura and
The last part of
the proposal includes to implement new macro-drainage systems in the
cities of Castilla and Piura by optimizing the existent drains and
adding underground reservoirs beneath parks and avenues, which would
lead in the Piura River.
critical point of the Piura River is when it runs beside Tambogrande
City and grows until colossal flows. This is the point when it turns
going down from the Andean range to the Sechura Desert.
Photo Courtesy by Jimmy Farfán.
FACTORTIERRA.NET: The New Piura
early alert system would be designed, although there is no clear details
yet, considering the geographical particularities and the existent
connectiveness levels among institutions and the people, so it would be
necessary to empower their skills, what is also considered in the plan.
integrally could take about eight years, or the equivalent of two
regional government administrations, CRHCCHP's representative Ronald
Ruíz Chapilliquén estimated during a self-summoned meeting of Piura's
citizen platforms, in Curilcas, Pacaipampa District, last August 4th.
The whole could cost about US$ 764,8 million.
information is not enough, it's necessary the citizen support of every
territory for the proposal to be gotten," he had said.
It is announced
the first months of 2019 could be lightly rainer than usual, not
reaching the 2017 extremes. The prevention plan proposed by the
authorities is ambitious. How much of that will be ready, at least, to
receive one alone heavy rain?
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