Student Research Opportunities Program
Through 2018-2019, the University of Louisville International Service Learning Program sent teams of students & faculty to the Vilcanota-Urubamba basin of Peru (the Incan “Sacred Valley”), to assist with water resource management and mapping flow losses from decaying irrigation infrastructure. Additional issues with water availability were noted. Farmers in the region had reported insufficient rains towards the end of the wet season. Some also reported shifting climate with more rain than usual during planting season at colder times preventing germination in some cases, as well as traditional freeze-drying practices.
In 2019 the government of Peru (Autoridad Nacional del Agua) was provided several multi million dollar loans from the World Bank to mitigate water issues, including water resource management and establishing a monitoring system to allow data driven changes in management to prevent crop loss. The World Bank estimated the investment to avoid 281,000 tons of agricultural produce loss from the Vilcanota-Urubamba watershed in Cusco- however this estimate was likely based on wider scale data than the local level where loss would be experienced. Many steps to procure needed data to inform solutions remain unclear. Particularly, differences in trends at regional scale vs local scale in the area are in need of investigation. Regional trends within the Urubamba may prioritize study of certain watershed over others, however, management decisions are only possible at the local scale since most farms are small plots of land fed by rainfall high in the valley.
Kessler, Samuel C. and Day, C. Andrew PhD, "HydrologicTrends inthe Sacred Valley of the Incas" (2021). Undergraduate Research Events. 25.