Randhir Leads Environmental Delegation to Peru and Uruguay

Coastal erosion and loss of coastal wetlands are critical issues for artisanal fishermen in Peru, says Timothy Randhir.
Coastal erosion and loss of coastal wetlands are critical issues for artisanal fishermen in Peru, says Timothy Randhir.
Stakeholders discuss nutrient pollution in the Santa Lucia River in Uruguay.
Stakeholders discuss nutrient pollution in the Santa Lucia River in Uruguay.

Timothy Randhir, professor of watershed hydrology in the department of environmental conservation, led a delegation of environmental professionals from western Massachusetts to study environmental issues in Peru and Uruguay from March 17-27.

The delegation included representatives from the Institute of Training and Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Friends of Lake Warner, a non-profit in Hadley. The professional exchange with Latin American nations promotes sharing of information about environmental sustainability, flood control, water quality management and community participation.

Since January, Peru has been devastated by heavy floods and landslides from intense storm events as a result of what Peru climatologists the “Coastal El Niño,” when monthly sea surface temperatures drop more than 3 degrees Celsius. Some locations received 10 times the normal rainfall with massive devastation to communities, says Randhir. The team visited sites and met with officials and scientists on recovery and potential management strategies.

The delegation also presented at an environmental sustainability conference sponsored by the Universidad Cesar Vallejo in Trujillo, Peru.

Later, the team also visited Uruguay, which faces increased contamination of its water supplies. The Santa Lucia river watershed is a primary source of drinking water to Montevideo, the capital and largest city in Uruguay. The delegation visited sites with high runoff and nutrient loading to identify strategies for improving water quality.

The program is organized by the Institute of Training and Development (ITD) in South Amherst, which received funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs for professional exchange on environmental sustainability with Uruguay, Peru and Mexico. Under the leadership of executive director Mark Protti, 20 environmental professionals from Peru and another 20 from Uruguay have been awarded fellowships to the U.S. over the past two years.