Environment 'We beg God for water': Chilean lake turns to desert, sounding climate change alarm

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PENUELAS, Chile (Reuters) - The Penuelas reservoir in central Chile was until twenty years ago the main source of water for the city of Valparaiso, holding enough water for 38,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Water for only two pools now remains.

A huge expanse of dried and cracked earth that was once the lake bed is littered with fish skeletons and desperate animals searching for water.

Amid an historic 13-year drought, rainfall levels have slumped in this South American nation that hugs the continent's Pacific coast. Higher air temperatures have meant snow in the Andes, once a key store of meltwater for spring and summer, is not compacting, melts faster, or turns straight to vapor.

The drought has hit mine output in the world's largest copper producer, stoked tensions over water use for lithium and farming, and led capital Santiago to make unprecedented plans for potential water rationing.

 
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