Argentine president Alberto Fernández on Monday declared a six-month state of emergency for the Parana River, which has dropped to its lowest level in 77 years. Water flow in the river in June was recorded at 6,190 cu m per second, just over half of the 11,823 cu m second recorded in June 2019, according to state-owned electricity wholesaler Cammesa.
The government decree on what is often described as the grains superhighway takes effect today.
“The extraordinary magnitude of the emergency requires that all areas of the national government join forces to mitigate this hydrological phenomenon in the areas affected,” the government said. Businesses and citizens have also been asked to reduce their water consumption.
The Parana River transports about 80% of Argentina’s agricultural exports. The water emergency is expected to continue delaying shipments of soy, corn, wheat and other grains, as ships are required to carry less cargo to avoid grounding.
The low water level is also affecting hydroelectric power generation. The government has responded by authorising greater fuel imports for thermoelectric plants and mandating the prioritisation of fuel cargoes over other shipments on the river.