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Colombian Congress Concerned over Water Shortages

Bogotá, September 11 (teleSUR-RHC)-- The Colombian congress debated Thursday which measures it will take to help municipalities that will soon face water shortages due to droughts caused by El Niño phenomenon.

Lawmakers expressed concerns after Housing and Water Minister Luis Felipe Henao announced Wednesday that over 300 municipalities throughout the country could be facing water shortages.

The minister explained that water rationing was going to be implemented in several cities in the country, which would last between four and eight hours per day.

Furthermore, the Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (IDEAM), has been issuing penalties for citizens who use large amounts of water.

According to the institute, which works with the Ministry of Environment, around 7,000 people have already been sanctioned.

From January to August, the regions most hit by the drought are La Guajira, Magdalena, the Atlantic, San Andres and Bogota.  The Colombian Congress is evaluating the creation of a special commission to specifically deal with the drought and the effects of El Niño.  Congressman Oscar Mauricio Lizcano explained that at least 26 fires are still active in different provinces throughout the country.

Colombian authorities have already drafted 656 contingency plans to prevent the effects of El Niño, and according to Minister Luis Felipe Henao, 579 of them correspond to high vulnerability areas.

The IDEAM has warned that the effects of El Niño will intensify in the coming days, and will last until April of next year.

Rains are expected to occur during this period of time, however experts doubt that the amount of water will compensate for the effects of the drought. 
Edited by Ivan Martínez
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