The subtitle, “Ríos del páramo al valle, por urbes y campiñas” (rivers from the páramo to the valley, through cities and countryside), reflects the special attention to be paid to the role of delicate high-elevation ecosystems in the region’s water supplies. The páramo, alpine moorland found at elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 meters above sea level, is where many of the rivers that feed Colombia’s coffee-growing region (Eje Cafetero) originate, and its hydrologic importance is increasingly recognized: it plays a crucial role regulating the timing and supply of water.
Downstream, agriculture is widespread, mainly growing coffee, and mid-size cities are also thriving – and demanding a growing share of the water that flows from the mountains. As climate change alters precipitation and temperatures, affecting both the páramo and the valleys below, it is important for water resources planners to fully understand the climatic, ecological, economic, and social factors at play and to explore adaptation strategies.
Water resources in Colombia are managed by Corporaciones Autónomas Regionales (CARs) that are responsible for water allocation, pollution mitigation and ecosystem and watershed management. This project will provide the CARs with systems and tools that will enable them to effectively manage this complexity while adapting to climate effects.
Specifically, this project involves building applications of SEI’s Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system for the Río La Vieja and Alto Magdalena watersheds, drawing on water supply and demand data, climate change models, and insights gained through engagement with stakeholders. SEI will also work to strengthen local institutions and build local capacity to use and continue to update the WEAP models.