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July 23, 2021

Argentina Government Asks Population to Economize Water

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The water level of the Parana River in Argentina has dropped so low that the federal government is asking the Argentine population to economize water as much as possible. The water level of the river is the lowest it has been in 77 years since 1944.

The headwaters of the Parana River are in south-central Brazil which has been enduring one of the driest periods in over 90 years. Southern Brazil is currently in its annual dry season and the summer rains are not expected to return until sometime in September or October.

What could complicate the situation in Argentina even more is the forecast for a potential return of La Nina over the next several months which could result in less-than-normal precipitation in south-central Brazil during the Southern Hemisphere's spring months. If that were to occur, the water level in the Parana River might not return to more normal levels until November or later.

The low water level is already causing problems with loading grain vessels at the port hub of Rosario which is responsible for 80% of Argentina's agricultural exports. Panamax size vessels must already forgo more than 11,000 tons of cargo due to the restricted draft of the river. The capacity of a Panamax grain vessel is generally about 60,000 tons. Dredging operations in the river channel are ongoing in order to maintain as deep a channel as possible.

In addition to transportation, the Parana River is a source of drinking water, irrigation water, and energy. The government has asked local residence to be especially careful to avoid forest fires in the delta region of the river. The government also announced a fund of US$ 10.4 million to help mitigate some of the adverse impacts of the low water level.