Mapping Honduras’ water supply

Science of The Total Environment (2022). DOI: 10.116/j.scitotenv.2022.156941″ width=”800″ height=”530″/>

Graphic abstract. Credit: Science of the total environment (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156941

In Tegucigalpa and surrounding areas, Hondurans often wait weeks for tap water.

A new study designed and co-authored by Ricardo Sánchez-Murillo, an 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 resources are also burdened by rapid population growth, increasing land use and extreme weather events. A lack of historical hydro-meteorological data has limited the government’s knowledge of where, when and how the country’s water supply is recharged.

“Water availability is one of Honduras’ most challenging public services,” Sánchez-Murillo said. “During extended dry seasons, many people have to resort to buying expensive bottled water or water imported from other basins.”

To find solutions, Sánchez-Murillo and an international team of researchers have spent the past three years tracing Tegucigalpa’s water supply, from rainstorm to tap. They monitored rainfall at various elevations and collected rainfall samples from groundwater and surface water sources, including wells, artesian wells, boreholes and streams. Using this data, they created mathematical models to understand where the water is being recharged, which is what happens when rainwater is absorbed by aquifers after storms.

This allowed them to create detailed maps of water resources in the Choluteca River basin, mapping for the first time geographic areas integral to water replenishment for municipal water regulation, protection and conservation.

The team’s findings, reported in the journal Science of the total environmentshow that areas critical for recharging are currently burdened by agricultural land use, deforestation and forest degradation caused by an invasive insect.

Equipped with this information, Sánchez-Murillo and colleagues translated their maps for Honduran authorities and recommended stricter urbanization and agricultural regulations to conserve water and protect vital landscapes.

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In his native Costa Rica, the government pays landowners a per-acre allowance to comply with conservation practices, Sánchez-Murillo said. Such arrangements help ensure consistent environmental services and groundwater replenishment.

By providing data and guidance to water managers, Sánchez-Murillo hopes to improve the quality of life of residents of central Honduras.

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

Releasing non-native fish to fight mosquitoes is often ineffective and harmful to the environment

More information:
S. García-Santos et al, Water stable isotopes reveal complex rainfall to groundwater connectivity in central Honduras, Science of the total environment
(2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156941

Provided by the University of Texas at Arlington

Quote: Mapping Honduras’ Water Supply (2022, September 29) retrieved September 29, 2022 from

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