Argentina: Drinking water supply system for rural population of Eastern Tucuman (#437)

The Eastern area of Tucuman province was faced with significant problems of contaminated water. Extensive research was done, involving universities, and a project was carried out, applying the aspects of IWRM within the areas of technical solutions, institutional arrangements of future water supply operation. This case study highlights the importance of conducting research prior to a project to attain sufficient information. 


The Eastern area of Tucuman province was faced to significant problems of “unsafe water” and inappropriate drinking water supply system. The shallow wells were contaminated by arsenic and other harmful pollutants. Several studies were conducted to solve the problem of insufficient drinking water supply mainly in small rural communities.

Action taken

The provincial government invited the National University of Tucumán to develop a feasibility study and technical projects for a community of 25,000 inhabitants. The University involved lecturers, researchers and students to develop this complex project.

It was essential that IWRM aspects were employed: the interdisciplinary approach given to the study, analysing the water resource available, its demand and the evaluation of the best economic and technical alternatives.

The project team conducted a complex study including technical solutions, institutional arrangements of future water supply operation. Both ground and surface water resources were assessed to be used for drinking water purposes. The technical and financial justification favoured the ground water sources.

The outcomes of the project contain also non-structural proposals targeting to endow sustainability to the solutions (creation of Cooperatives to manage the services) involving the services users in their management.

Importance of the case for IWRM

In this case, two aspects which are normally not faced together but contrary are prioritised.

On one hand, the necessary studies to achieve the basic water resources knowledge in order to have reliable, systematic and normalised information within the hydrological water cycle as well as the water quality and quantity corresponding time-space distributions, for their utilisation as a baseline for future studies.

On the other hand, the execution of specific projects to give solution to the health problems together with the future sustainability of water services through the Civil Organised Society participation.

Photo credit: Justin De La Ornellas