The science of restoring basins

Before selecting a restoration strategy, it is essential to understand the natural process of recovering an ecosystem, evaluate the objectives and available resources.

It is no secret to anyone that hydrographic basins are essential to guarantee a permanent water supply, but few know that behind the restoration and conservation of a river system there is more than a tree planting plan and conversion of activities that negatively impact the system.

To begin with, it is necessary to understand that the regulation of a basin seeks to maintain a less changing base flow, in such a way that in rainy seasons the water does not run uncontrollably to the river beds and is stored in the ground, and in times of rain. low rainfall there is an adequate supply both in quality and quantity.

When this operation is affected by factors such as deforestation and erosion, restoration plans are required to ensure that the affected areas return to a balanced or sustainable condition. These efforts focus on maintaining ecosystem services such as the provision of water, the prevention and control of erosion, and the conservation of biodiversity and carbon sinks.

For this effort to be effective, it is necessary to understand the natural process of recovery of an ecosystem; understand the rainfall-flow relationship in different conditions and know the changes in the patterns of temperature, precipitation and coverage, among others. Currently, pollution and climate change must be considered as decisive factors.

Based on this knowledge, plant species that physiologically tolerate the changes generated in the basin and other special adaptations can be selected, as well as defining agricultural activities that contribute to ecological restoration.

The above explains why increasing the population of trees in a healthy river system can generate an increase in water consumption due to greater evapotranspiration and, therefore, decrease the water supply of the basin, instead of favoring it.

Measure the micro

The microbasins are territorial units manageable from the hydrographic point of view and with more uniform conditions than those of a basin. In addition, restoration and / or conservation interventions are more concentrated in them. Due to these characteristics, they are ideal for measuring parameters such as water level, sediment concentration, pollution and state of riverine vegetation, among others.

Cenicaña currently carries out hydrological monitoring on four micro-basins and at the sub-basin level in the Aguaclara River, the main contributor of the Bolo river flow, for which information has been available since November 2013.

With this monitoring we want to know the impact of the recovery and conservation actions carried out by the Water for Life and Sustainability Fund (FAPVS), as a basis for adjusting the restoration plans that are being executed and designing new intervention alternatives that promote regulation and water yield in these basins.

In this way, the sugarcane agribusiness contributes to the integral management of the water resource: from the upper part of the basins, with the detailed study of the water supply and the support to the associations of users of the rivers; and in the flat area, with the knowledge that leads to specifying the water requirements for the crop and making efficient use of the resource.


The quantity and quality of surface and groundwater are closely related. In the upper and middle parts of the basins the water is generated that recharges the rivers and aquifers, since they are areas of rainfall concentration.


FANNY HOYOS. Agricultural Engineer, Agronomy Program - Cenicaña.

Information letter
4 Year / 2 Number / July of 2016

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