Guidelines for designing and managing multiple uses of water systems in rural areas in Colombia

Rural water supply systems in Colombia are planned considering typical urban water uses, ignoring that rural inhabitants use water for domestic and small-scale productive activities, particularly irrigation of small plots (less than 6400 m2) and keeping animals - 20 chickens, 5 pigs, 1 or 2 cows. These activities provide monthly income, in some cases around 590 US$/month, that contributes to family basic needs and sustainability of water supply systems. These benefits are possible by supplying around 213 lpcd for multiple uses. This quantity is slightly higher than the 100-150 liters per capita per day (lpcd) established by Colombian regulation. Allowing multiple uses of water and its benefits requires planning of systems including a variety of water sources (surface water, groundwater, rainwater, fog water and even grey and wastewater), considering technological alternatives to match supply and demand, and implementing managerial strategies to ensure equity and sustainability.