PES-based water management system in southern Ecuador

Authors: Inhye Kong*, , Fausto Sarmiento, Department of Geography, University of Georgia
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, South America
Keywords: Payment for ecosystem services, Water Fund, Socio Paramo, Cuenca, Ecuador
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) policy has been extensively implemented in South America for the last two decades. Ecuador is one of the most successful countries which launched a Water Fund, a watershed-oriented PES program, collaborating with diverse stakeholders. Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, has been participating in Water Fund since 2008, since the residents of the city heavily rely on water resources to upstream mountainous area including Cajas National Park.
Water management system in Cuenca is governed by local private company called ETAPA-EP, who plays a crucial role to protect the upstream areas including the national park as well as supply water resources. In this study, the major objective is to explore diverse conservation programs which this unique management company is conducting by the authority entrusted from central government. We find distinctive advantages of this system compared to public water management system. Simultaneously, we find several limitations, majorly related to central governmental authority, including conflict/duplicate PES system developed by local-level (Water Fund) and national-level (Socio Paramo) or lacking funds due to the decision made by the central government banning to collect entrance fee to national parks since 2012. As a result, the company seeks to expand the components of Water Fund, beyond collecting a fee from water supply.
In conclusion, we identify current shortcomings of water management system in Cuenca and come up with possible solutions and suggestions to improve the management efficiency. These attempts would contribute to achieve sustainable water use and watershed conservation goals.

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