Photos + Video: Andres Figueroa | Music: Diego Redz | Words: David Gleisner
Laguna de Aculeo, 43 miles south of Santiago, was once one of Chile's largest natural bodies of fresh water.
City dwellers seeking a break from the hustle would head down to Aculeo to relax on its shores, enjoying beaches full of kids playing in the tranquil waters. Boats floated across the blue expanse.
Now, only vestiges of this life remain. Piers sit rusting above the dried mud of the lakebed. Pastures of brush grow where waves once rippled. Although the lagoon still appears on maps, traveling to what was once its center brings you to nothing but cracked earth.
This disheartening fate was not inevitable. Historical drought driven by climate change contributed to lower water levels. But sucking the lagoon dry were deep wells drilled and rivers diverted to quench the thirsty avocado and cherry crops in nearby large-scale farms. A neoliberal economic system that viewed water as an exploitable commodity led to this unrepentant distribution of water rights, without foresight into the consequences.
Janji Field Team athlete Polo Pavez traveled to the Aculeo Lagoon, traversing the dry lakebed on foot to explore how it got this bad and consider a new vision of the future.
"A vision in which the environment is the highest priority so that we can all enjoy places like this and not just remember what they once were."
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