Hydrologist’s water source maps may be key to Honduras’ future – ScienceDaily

In and around Tegucigalpa, Hondurans often wait weeks for the tap water to run.

A new study designed and co-authored by Ricardo Sanchez Murillo, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Texas at Arlington, could change that.

In a region highly vulnerable to climate change and climate variability, Honduras’ water sources are also burdened by rapid population growth, increased land use and extreme weather events. The lack of historical hydrometeorological data has limited the government’s knowledge of where, when, and how the country’s water supply is recharged.

“Availability of water is one of the most challenging public services in Honduras,” Sanchez Murillo said. “During long dry seasons, many people are forced to buy expensive bottled water or water imported from other ponds.”

To find solutions, Sanchez Murillo and an international team of researchers have spent the past three years tracking Tegucigalpa’s water supply from a rainstorm to a faucet. They monitored precipitation at various altitudes and collected precipitation samples from groundwater and surface water sources, including springs, dug wells, wells, and streams. Using this data, they created mathematical models to understand the locations of water recharge, which occurs when rainwater is absorbed by aquifers after storms.

This allowed them to produce detailed maps of water sources in the Choluteca River Basin, to map for the first time the geographical areas that are integral to water recharge in order to organize, protect and conserve municipal waters.

The team’s results were published in the journal college ecologyit was found that areas critical to nutrition are currently under stress due to agricultural land use, deforestation, and forest degradation caused by an invasive insect.

Providing him with this information, Sanchez Murillo and his colleagues translated their maps for Honduran authorities and recommended tougher regulations on urbanization and agriculture to conserve water and protect vital landscapes.

Sánchez Murillo said the government in his native Costa Rica pays landowners a stipend per hectare to comply with conservation practices. Agreements like these help ensure consistent environmental services and groundwater recharge.

By providing data and guidance to water resource managers, Sanchez Murillo hopes to improve the quality of life for the people of central Honduras.

“At this time, many people are choosing to leave the country as part of climate-induced migrations in search of stable resources,” Sanchez Murillo said. “Together, we can solve this problem, improve people’s lives, and provide a sustainable home.”

Story source:

Materials Introduction of The University of Texas at Arlington. Original by Linsey Retcofsky. Note: Content can be modified according to style and length.

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