Arid areas call for imaginative water management solutions to avoid the dangers of water shortages. Growing demands of water for domestic and industrial uses decrease the availability of water for agriculture. It therefore becomes necessary to set up a policy for the use of domestic effluents. For the province of Mendoza, Argentina, with 1,500,000 inhabitants, a master plan was designed as of 1991 for the treatment of domestic effluents and subsequent disposal for irrigation. The guidelines set up by WHO for the use of wastewater in agricultural applications were taken into consideration. At present, the Province of Mendoza has available projects which are either complete, in execution or in the bidding process, entailing secondary treatment capacity with reuse of 320,000 cubic metres/day and an estimated possible irrigation area of 10,000 hectares. With this infrastructure, some strategic lines of action are recommended to establish a policy for the agricultural use of wastewater: (a) to program the use of treated wastewater to avoid discharges to irrigation flows; (b) to develop an institutional scheme for the efficient and safe use of these waters; and (c) develop scientific and technologic know-how to accompany the updated policies.

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