Within the framework of World Water Day, members of the Technical Committee of the Ocosito River Watershed carried out a tour on March 16, 2022, to verify progress in flow measurement, user coordination and reforestation. During the field trip, the flow of the Ocosito River was measured. It was found that the river flows to its mouth, with the characteristics of the dry season.
Technicians from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – MARN and the ICC, explained the methodology used to measure the flow of the Ocosito River and the contributing rivers, such as Bolas and El Peraz. As part of the advances that have been promoted through the technical board for water management, it can be highlighted that the Ocosito River has the first hydrometric station in the watershed. This device automatically records the flow of the river, allowing communities in the lower part and institutions such as CONRED to be alerted to the risk of flooding.
The members of the Ocosito Technical Committee have promoted a program for the restoration and conservation of the watershed through restoration of forest landscape, for example through reforestation of riparian forests. Since 2016, communities, local organizations, companies such as Agroaceites, Grupo Hame, El Pilar, Magdalena, and Palo Gordo, have planted native trees in more than 102 hectares to restore riparian, mangrove, and productive forests. The coordination of water users, something that historically had not existed, has been achieved with the accompaniment of the National Forests Institute -INAB-, Rainforest Alliance and the ICC. This has allowed the optimization of water use in production processes and to coordinate with communities.
Currently, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP and MARN, a management plan for the watershed is being developed.
These actions have allowed great advances in water management, an example is the fact that the Ocosito River has flowed to its mouth during the last 5 years. The technical board was created in 2016 out of the need to organize the use of water. In 2021, promoted by the Vice Ministry of Water, the board was institutionalized through the Governmental Agreement 19-2021.
Currently, the Ocosito Technical Board is made up of the departmental Governors and municipal Mayors of Retalhuleu, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos; MARN, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food – MAGA, the Office of the Human Right Ombudsman – PDH, the National Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction – CONRED, Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance – MSPAS, Secretariat of Planning and Programming of the Presidency – SEGEPLAN, INAB, Association for Comprehensive Development of the South West Trifinio – ASODITSO, Association of Farmers of the South West of Guatemala -AGSOGUA, El Manantial Hydroelectric Association, San Rafael Hydroelectric, Magdalena, Palo Gordo and El Pilar Sugar Production Companies, Grupo HAME, El Silencio, Tamaxan and Covadonga Farms, Association of Sugar Producers of Guatemala, the ICC, Rainforest Alliance, Banasa, and Agroaceites, among others.
The conservation of the watershed faces several challenges, such as:
- Contamination of water resources; for example, garbage in the rivers.
- Climate change
- Plans for the proper management and conservation of water and other natural resources
- Integral management approach to the conservation of the watershed
Water management is a challenge for Guatemala and for humanity and it requires the integration of the different sectors that are part of society.