La Plata Basin.pdf

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Earth Sciences
Luc Bernier

1 Practice Case Study #1 Read the short text below. Use your knowledge and understanding of the course material to answer the set of questions which follows it, and which are all based on this case study 2 Extending over 3.1 million km , La Plata River basin is the second largest river system in South America and the fifth largest in the world. Shared by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil,Paraguay and Uruguay, it covers about one-fifth of SouthAmerica. With over 100 million inhabitants, close to 50 big cities and 75 large dams, La Plata River basin is at the core of the region’s socio-economic activities, which generate around 70% of the per capita GDP of the five basin countries.. With its extensive geographic coverage, La Plata River basin is highly variable topographically, ranging from 4,000 metre high mountains in north-western Argentina and southern Bolivia to almost sea level southern plains in Argentina and Uruguay. Rainfall similarly varies, from less than 700 mm per year in the western Bolivian highlands to more than 1,800 mm per year along the Brazilian coast in the east. The basin is also rich in groundwater resources. The Guaraní aquifer, shared by all five countries except Bolivia, is one of the world’s largest groundwater reservoirs, extending over 1.19 million km and having an estimated capacity of 37,000 billion m . Of this, 40 billion m to 80 billion m per year is exploited, mainly in Brazil for consumption in over 300 cities. Of the overall agricultural area in La Plata River basin, the share of irrigated land is relatively low, varying from 2% in Paraguay to 15% in Uruguay. On the other hand, in all the basin countries agriculture holds the largest share of overall water consumption: from 62% in Brazil to 96% in Uruguay. Moreover, increased average annual rainfall, coupled with the promotion of soybeans as the key crop, has resulted in expansion of agriculture, especially towards historically arid and semi-arid zones. Urbanization is one of the biggest drivers of change in La Plata River basin. From the 1960s to the early 2000s, the share of urban dwellers in the region’s population increased from about 45% to 86.6%, mainly through internal migration. Answer the following questions: (next page) 2 1. The regional climate is significantly impacted by the El Nino Southern Oscillation. This is accompanied by: a) droughts b) flooding c) light rains 2. Existing water supply problems in Northern Argentina may worsen, which may require changes, EXCEPT one of the following: a) changes in crop type. b) change to flood irrigation. c) changes in cultivation frequency d) changes in drainage methods. 3. The combination of climate change and intensive agriculture could lead to: a) increased eutrophication. b) increased soil productivity. c) increased salinization. 4. While the number of connections to water utilities in the basin is greater in urban areas than in rural areas, access to safe water is in fact lower in urban areas because of: a) poorly maintained infrastructure b) decreased water losses in the distribution system. c) constant service provision. 5. With increased migration to cities all around the basin, direct discharge of sewage effluents MOST likely impacts: a) upstream slums b) upstream city cores c) downstream slums 6. The Hidrovia Paraguay – Parana diversion project between Uruguay and Brazil has been proposed in the late 1980s, but would NOT entail which of the following? a) increased dredging b) decreased dredging. c) construction of dykes and levees d) channel straightening 3 7. By 2006, access to the water supply and sanitation in Argentina was still in shambles, after years of structural adjustments. Which of the following MOST likely took place? a) Renationalization of water utilities. b) Cancellation of a contract with private water operators. c) Negotiation of a new contract with private water operators. d) a and b e) a and c 8. Bolivia has adopted a new legal framework, which follows the soft path, to regulate its water and sanitation services. Which of the following is NOT involved with this change? a) Decentralization of water regulation b) Increased integration of municipalities and users c) Prioritization of social values. d) Prioritization of market values 9. Lack of sanitation infrastructure and inadequate wastewater treatment are the main causes of water-related infections in the La Plata River basin. Which of the following waterborne disease is MOST likely the most widespread? a) Diarrhoea b) Malaria c) Dengue Fever d) Leishmaniasis 10. A consensus on the definition of extreme hydrological events has yet to be reached between the basin countries. On which of the following sectors does this definition have important consequences? a) Reservoir operations b) Urban planning c) Irrigation regimes d) a and c e) a, b, c 4 Practice Case Study #2 Read the short text below. Use your knowledge and understanding of the course material
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