THE EFFECTS OF URBANIZATION ON THE WATERSHEDS OF TABABELA, ECUADOR.
By Gopal Penny and Brita Rustad, 2013.
In June 2013, IWP Fellows, Gopal Penny and Brita Rustad, in coordination with Fondo para la Protección del Agua (FONAG) and Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento (EPMAPS), conducted a preliminary analysis of the lower and mid elevation portions of watersheds in the Tababela region, on the outskirts of Quito. The project area is deeply impacted by the construction of the new International Airport of Quito. The analysis consisted of a general survey of the area, collection of infiltration and water quality data, documentation of dominant vegetation types, and identification of hydrologic infrastructure and hydrologic risks.
From 1990 to 2010, average annual growth in the parroquias of Pifo, Yaruquí, and Checa was 4.6%, and populations in this region more than doubled. With the construction of the new International Airport of Quito in Tababela, the parroquias will likely continue to grow quickly, posing environmental challenges to the watersheds they occupy.
This analysis focused on the developing portion of the catchments, where watershed health is important even though runoff is not used for drinking water. Since little research has been done in this watershed, this work provided a basis for future analysis.
The objective was to characterize the watershed in terms of surface features and surface hydrology in order to provide an initial overview of the watershed. The work was divided into (i) surveying watershed features, (ii) collecting surface data by taking soil samples, infiltration measurements, and climatic measurements, and (iii) collecting water quality samples.
The results and recommendations were presented to the technical staff from both FONAG and EPMAPS at the end of the trip. There were two primary concerns in these watersheds: urban expansion and soil erosion.
The following tasks were recommended to the local technicians:
- Assess spatial patterns of urban expansion up to this point in time;
- Develop appropriate model for urban expansion;
- Assess the impact of Tababela airport on population growth;
- Model future expansion, including effects on agriculture and grazing;
- Estimate the impacts on overland flow, contaminant transport, and stream ecology.
Local partner: FONAG
Total budget: $3,400