Argentina: Rural planning and sustainable water resources use in Pillahuinco basin (#443)

The Pillahuinco basin is located in one of the most productive regions of Argentina. It is within the roads that connect the southernmost parts of the country with the capital and the far north, as well as the Andean provinces of the west with the ports of the Atlantic coast, intersect there. The basin covers a region with a distinct topography, presenting a highland area with elevations between 250 and 650 meters. With a plain that can reach about 125 meters where agricultural activities predominate. The agriculture activities have resulted to environmental problems calling for an approach that can provide solutions to support sustainable development of the basin.


The major problem in the basin is surface water erosion causing a loss of soil productivity in the upper catchment of the basin. This results to flooding in the middle and lower basin. Therefore, there a need to design a planning program aimed to reduce soil loss by surface water erosion and thus increase soil productivity, strengthening the hydrological dynamics in the Pillahuinco basin.

Action taken

A collaboration among the residents of the basin was initiated to address soil loss through surface water erosion. Indicators were developed that identified the everyday use and management values through involvement of stakeholders in the basin. The approach enabled easy interpretation and provided a basis for comparative analysis of every resource user. Thus, consensus and the support of the basin stakeholders with diverse representation from private sector, political, institutional and social background was cemented. The implementation of this program highlighted a case in rural planning that has contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of the rural and urban communities.

In addition, quantification and modelling of water resources was done through the application of geographic information systems. It was crucial so as to assess the availability of the current and future resources as well as analysis of land use changes. The end product is a geospatial database available and open to public access.

Finally, a sustainable use of water resources and Rural Planning for the basin was proposed based on potential alternative production systems. The proposal has taken into account the needs of the local population and the implementation of Land Use Planning that can be achieved through integrated water resources management.

Lessons learnt

The sustainable use of water resources and rural planning in the Pillahuinco basin was an important experience for integrated water resource management. It involved different stakeholders in the basin, implementing sustainable farming practices that aim to address surface water erosion, and to recover the productivity of the soil.

The joint action of the project participants (researchers, producers, public and private institutions as well as other stakeholders) made it possible to collect field data on biological, productive, environmental and social features of the basin under study.