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Drinking Water Supply and Agroindustry in Villagorgona, Colombia

The contamination of rivers by agroindustry of sugarcane and the lack of groundwater because of intensive agricultural activities have affected the town of Villagorgona since its foundation


The town of Villagorgona located within the municipality of Candelaria, which is part of the department of Valle del Cauca, has been facing problems of drinking water supply since its foundation in 1953 [1]. As new poor population arrived to this municipality, it was necessary to extend urban territory between beds of rivers and road networks. The inadequate urban planning led to several floods, given the town’s proximity of the Cauca river [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Drinking Water Supply and Agroindustry in Villagorgona, Colombia
State or province:Valle del Cauca
Location of conflict:Villagorgona
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Sugar
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:25000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project5,638,350
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:27,000
Start of the conflict:1953
End of the conflict:2015
Company names or state enterprises:The Public Utility Company of Emcandelaria
Mayagüez Sugarcane Mill
Incauca Sugarcane Mill
Society of Aqueducts and Sewers of Valle del Cauca (ACUAVALLE)
Manuelita Sugarcane Mill
Municipal Firemen of Candelaria
Relevant government actors:Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle del Cauca (CVC)
The departmental governorship of Valle del Cauca
The Mayor’s Office of Candelaria, Pradera and Florida
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Community Aqueducts of the Valle del Cauca
Council of the Municipality of Candelaria
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The municipality of Candelaria took more than 50 years to provide adequate drinking water coverage and it was only in 2010 that the construction of the aqueduct was undertaken. There is no victory of environmental justice since the generators of the conflict such as the cultivation of sugarcane have not assumed any commitment or have assumed costs for the implementation of its solution.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[5] Contraloría Departamental Del Valle Del Cauca. (2014). Informe Final de Auditoría Gubernamental con Enfoque Integral Modalidad Especial de Seguimiento a Plan de Mejoramiento Empresas Públicas Municipales de Candelaria “Emcandelaria E.S.P en liquidación” de la Contraloría Departamental del Valle del Cauca de diciembre de 2014.

[6] Burbano, L., & Sánchez, L.,D. (2001). Remoción de hierro y manganeso por oxidación-filtración para agua potable. En: Seminario Internacional: Visión Integral en el Mejoramiento de la Calidad del Agua. Instituto Cinara, Universidad del Valle.

[8] Uribe, C., H. (2016). Tesis de Doctorado: Comunidades del Valle Geográfico del Río Cauca en Acción Colectiva Ambiental Frente a la Agroindustria Cañera, Universidad del Valle.

[14] Municipio De Candelaria. (2001). Plan de Desarrollo Municipal de Candelaria, 2001-2003. Alcaldía de Candelaria, Elvia Lozano Aguado, Alcaldesa Municipal. Valle del Cauca. Retrieved 16 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[15] Municipio De Candelaria. (2005). Plan básico de Ordenamiento Territorial del Municipio de Candelaria, 2005-2015. Documento Técnico I, Diagnostico Municipio de Candelaria, Valle del Cauca. Retrieved 17 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[16] Alcaldía Municipal De Candelaria. (2008). Plan de Desarrollo 2008-2011. Municipio de Candelaria. Retrieved 16 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[1] El PAÍS. (2005, 1 March). Villagorgona reclama por su agua potable. Retrieved 16 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[2] EL PAÍS. (2011, 12 November). En las próximas horas el Cauca podría desbordar en Candelaria: CVC. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[3] EL PAÍS. (2015, 7 March,). En Villagorgona esperaron 30 años por una gota de agua potable. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[4] EL TIEMPO. (1994, 1 August). Acueducto para Candelaria. Retrieved 16 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[7] EL TIEMPO. (1992, 2 April). Agua a crédito. Retrieved 15 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[9] EL TIEMPO. (1992, 15 June). Candelaria busca agua en Florida. Retrieved 15 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[10] EL TIEMPO. (1995, 2 November). Cerrar o cerrar Emcandelaria. Retrieved 17 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[11] EL PAÍS. (2013, 13 November). Terminó protesta pacífica de habitantes de Candelaria por falta de agua. Retrieved 17 July 2017, from
[click to view]

[12] EL TIEMPO. (2006, 30 October). Estudian tres alternativas para llevar agua a Candelaria, trabajos tardaría 18 meses. Retrieved 17 July 2017, from.
[click to view]

[13] EL TIEMPO. (2012, 18 June). Agua de Florida llegará a Candelaria. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Defensores Acuavalle. (2014, 20 May). Programa Defensores: Agua a Villagorgona. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Stephanye Zarama-Alvarado, Researcher
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3000
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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