Most municipalities have sewer systems, but wastewater treatment is inconsistent, so that rivers, lakes, and oceans themselves can become open sewers.
Current legislation, though, requires Santiago to become the first Latin American capital to treat all its wastewater. More than half of the country’s industry is in Santiago, and additional legislation required private factories to draft wastewater management plans and implement them within five years.
Nonmetropolitan industries such as agriculture, forestry, and mining also contribute to the contamination of Chilean streams and seas. Among the worst offenders are commercial fruit growers, many of whom rely on far more chemical fertilizers and pesticides than necessary to augment their flourishing exports, and pulp mills. The booming salmon-farming industry causes chemical runoff problems in the Sur Chico and Patagonia.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition