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Donde Nacen Las Aguas - Where the Waters Are Born (WWAB)

It is a participative research project, unprecedented in the territory, aiming to create a participative water monitoring methodology adapted to the challenges of the protected area.

Donde Nacen Las Aguas (DNLA) combines science, management and community with the objective of developing new conservation practices for the aquatic ecosystems of Southern Patagonia.

Help us rise to the challenges of this World Heritage site.

We are a group of eight women
scientists and managers involved in the 
the conservation of aquatic ecosystems

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Our symbol is the Pata de los Torrentes, Merganetta Armata. This duck is an intrepid species, specialized in swimming against the current in turbulent watercourses. Its audacity and tenacity inspires us.

WWAB is the result of a multidisciplinary work between Los Glaciares National Park (Northern Zone), the IIMyC-UNMdP-CONICET research laboratory and Boana. We created the first baseline of surface waters in the Northern Zone of the protected area to strengthen the ecological integrity and the continuity of the quality of the protected area's surface waters (Objective 7 of the PNLG management plan).

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Creation of the first baseline on surface water bodies in the protected area

(physicochemical, microbiological and isotopic parameters).


Sub-basins studied

Scientific training for the community and managers of the protected area on how to carry out sampling.


Sampled sites

Analysis of the lessons learned from the project to create a participative methodology for monitoring surface water quality. 


Walked within the National Park, including remote glacier areas.


Citizens trained to sample water bodies


Community sampling

Background diagnostic of 
Where The Waters Are Born

The aquatic ecosystems of the northern zone of Los Glaciares National Park are among the most unknown ecosystems in the entire protected area.  The protected area, despite its World Heritage status and its strategic role as a world freshwater reserve, does not have a water quality information system, nor regular funding to carry it out.

Before WWAB, there were no study describing the main parameters of surface watercourses. The state of water conservation constitutes one of the major informational gaps in the protected area's management plan. This lack of information leads to specific problems, such as the lack of monitoring of water quality or the lack of regulations adapted to the characteristics of the watercourses. In addition, the information available on watercourses is not publicly disseminated, particularly public information on sewage networks.  The lack of coordination between the institutions in charge of water quality, especially in situations of conflicts related to pollution, makes water management in El Chaltén vulnerable.  

In a context of climate change, the absence of baseline data increases uncertainties and adaptation opportunities. To strengthen management and adaptation capacities, it is necessary to monitor changes in aquatic ecosystems over time. The Northern Zone of the protected area is a true open-air laboratory for observing climate change (precipitation patterns, glacier melting, rising stream temperatures, invasive species). Given the growing vulnerabilities of Southern Patagonia's ecosystems, it is necessary to develop solid and participatory information systems.

The generation of knowledge about aquatic ecosystems is essential to place water at the center of decision making.

Consult the 3D map of the 80 sampling points of the sampling phase of Where the Waters Are Born. 

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DNLA's participation in the International Congress of Limnology in Bariloche, Argentina.

WWAB's team presented the participative methodology of the project at the IAL-IPA Congress in December 2022.

WWAB  is the first participative research project on water monitoring implemented in a National Park in the Patagonian region. As a pilot initiative, coordination between the action registers of all stakeholders is a key element of the project

Building participative dynamics with state actors means reinserting the project in the framework of the classic decision-making process of the protected area. The analysis of the decision-making chain based on data co-produced by various stakeholders is fundamental to determine the participatory scope of the project and to propose a monitoring methodology that is truly inclusive of the community's knowledge and perceptions.

In addition, the variety of "participative iniciatives" requires an analysis of the methods mobilized for the training of citizens and the integration of their knowledge throughout the project, both in its definition and in the socio-political implications of the scientific data. The tensions between water as a "public good" and water as a "common good" conditions the development of the participatory register within the research project - both at the normative and social levels. The role of scientific data, when inserted within a territory and its set of actors, must be analyzed in the light of its integration into decision-making processes.

IAL-IPA 2022 Presentation Summary

First progress report (in spanish)

Anière Martínez, M., Martinez, Lorena V. April 2022.

Explore the map of conflicts around water in El Chaltén

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