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Urbinsight, Lima, Peru

Urbinsight Lima is a multi-year project USA based nonprofit Ecocity Builders and Peruvian partners, supported to date by funding from the Organization of American States’ Sustainable Communities Program. The project offers a proven holistic urban systems assessment approach and process. To date, the Urbinsight Lima project is raising awareness and guiding decision-making for more efficient water use, reuse, conservation and watershed management in Lima.

The EcoCompass, Urbinsight’s educational platform, features a full suite of urban system research and training modules including spatial and non-spatial technologies advanced through an integrated and customizable set of classroom lectures and seminars, labs, and workshops. These materials have been developed by Ecocity Builders and adapted for local implementation with an emphasis on a Participatory Action Research framework. In Lima, the local focus is on water.

With a rapidly growing population of almost 10 million, Lima is home to one third of Peru’s population and is the third-largest city in the Americas, behind São Paulo and Mexico City.

Supply and access to fresh water is one of Lima’s primary challenges. The city landscape is prone to earth tremors and flash floods that can cause water-fueled landslides known as “huaycos.” Most recently, the huaycos of 2017 left Lima citizens without a reliable water supply for nearly three weeks. In some districts, access to running water is still limited to under 30 minutes per day.

The project is helping Lima assess conditions and risks in impacted districts and neighborhoods by collecting and sharing information on water resource systems and generating original community-level data to complement official government source data. Working with local universities, governments, community groups and citizens, the project is strengthening local capacity for data collection, analysis and action, and is supporting local initiatives related to urban sustainability, risk management, and urban resource accounting.



Focus Areas: San Isidro and Santa Eulalia

The two Lima study areas, San Isidro and Santa Eulalia, represent communities from both the lower and upper reaches of the Rímac river watershed, offering a powerful opportunity to leverage partnerships to better understand how water users are connected — through the health of the watershed and the water demands and behaviors of the users.

Citizen and student research provide a means for linking the urban downstream users with the rural upper watershed communities through mapping and data visualizations, collected through a unique participatory community data collection and information sharing processes.

Since 2012, PUCP’s Instituto de Ciencias de la Naturaleza, Territorio y Energias Renovables has been working with the small community of Santa Eulalia, located about 35 km east of Lima, on an integrated water resources management program. The town is situated in the basin of the Santa Eulalia River, a major tributary of the Rímac River, which supplies 75% of Lima’s water.

Santa Eulalia is focusing the Urbinsight implementation on watershed health and risk assessment of previously un-mapped sections of the local landscape, in addition to collecting data about water consumption and water quality.

The Municipality of San Isidro, a district located in central Lima, has implemented a number of plans and programs related to greening the city and promoting sustainability, such as bicycle lanes and tree planting.

The Urbinsight focus in San Isidro is on understanding the water sub system and local water infrastructure and use in order to make more informed proposals for water conservation, reuse and recycling, collection, and storage, as well as engaging neighborhoods and citizens in understanding their personal water consumption patterns and behaviors while raising awareness about conservation.

Urbinsight Project in San Isidro

Urbinsight Project in Santa Eulalia

Ecocity Builders collaborated with the PUCP course participants and municipal officials from Santa Eulalia to collect basic geospatial information for the two neighborhoods: Huayaringa and Pomaticla. Information such as Land Use, Parcel lots, streets, public spaces, parks, potential distaster relief spaces, and more were collected and mapped using ArcGIS. This information will now become part of the municipalities toolbox for understanding these neighborhoods and planning for future development and risk aversion. The Municipal government plans to conduct similar mapping exercises for all other neighborhoods.

In order to better understand the district in a fine-grained context, the San Isidro focused course participants worked with Ecocity Builders and the Project data providers and the municipality to develop a neighborhood archetype map for the district, the first of its kind for Lima. These archetypes are an integral component of the Urbinsight methodology of assessing “neighborhood ecologies” in order to support more localized sustainability interventions with the participation and engagement of residents.

Study Area Final Map Samples

Santa Eulalia

This ArcGIS map shows land uses and proximity to a mudslide channel (huayco) in the Santa Eulalia study area. This area was previously unmapped.

San Isidro

District of San Isidro and its 16 Functional Areas.

● Neighborhood Archetype 1: In this archetype, there is a low density of houses and generally high economic strata. It is influenced by collective roads, the same ones that converge in their central parts, allowing for this location to be the home of commercial, residential, and zonal centers. In this archetype, the overall range of population density is between 70 and 140 people per hectare. Likewise, buildings are generally between 1 and 3 floors. 10 neighborhoods meet the criteria for A1.

● Neighborhood Arquetipo 2: The presence of the high-traffic metropolitan road axis (Av. Javier Prado) has made possible the presence of considerably tall buildings (15 or more floors) along Avenida Javier. The presence of housing as well as high density residential areas in both margins of the main roadway, in this archetype predominate the residential areas of medium, high, and very high density with high economic stratum. 1 neighborhood meets these criteria.

● Neighborhood Archetype 3: Large private recreational zone with extensive green space, bordered by very 24 high density housing (generally more than 200 inhabitants/ha). High economic stratum. Presence of buildings up to 30 floors. 1 neighborhood meets these criteria.

● Neighborhood Archetype 4: Public Recreational Area (park and garden), bordered in majority by low density housing with 3-floor buildings and high economic stratum. 1 neighborhood meets these criteria.

● Neighborhoods Archetype 5: Metropolitan commercial and financial zone, political-administrative center, tall buildings (up to 30 floors), floating population, high economic stratum, access to metropolitan roads such as: Vía Expresado de la República and Avenida Javier Prado. 3 neighborhoods meet these criteria

Lima Urbinsight Geoexplorer

Utilizing geographic data sourced from the Urbinsight Lima partners, participants assessed local conditions. Via additional research and auditing on the ground, they explored Lima’s water subsystems in context with the geographic analysis using tools to assess the urban metabolism of water as an “information system”.

Explore Lima’s data in the geoexplorer below and further down, the Urban Metabolic Information System (UMIS) Meta Diagram for Water / San Isidro.

Urbinsight Geoexplorer Data – Categorized and Described

CUM_1998_Clip (land use)

Designation of “highest” or “best” use of land at the national level. // capacidad de uso mayor de la tierra a nivel nacional.

area_urbana (urban area)

Areas or urban centers. // Áreas o cascos urbanos.

Uso_del_suelo y_otros (San Isidro land use)

Land use with general addresses and zones. // Uso del suelo con direcciones, urbanizaciones, y zonificaciones.

vias_clip (roads)

Highways and other paths. // Carreteras y otros caminos.

Eje_de_via (San Isidro road axes)

Axes, or central lines, of streets. // Ejes, o líneas centrales, de calles.

Vereda (San Isidro sidewalks)

Sidewalks, including drive aprons and curb cuts. // Veredas, incluidos los delantales de conducción y los cortes de acera.

Construccion (San Isidro construction)

Footprints of buildings (homes, businesses, etc). // Huellas de edificios (hogares, empresas, etc).

bofedal_2013 (wetland vegetation)

Areas of wetland vegetation. // Áreas de vegetación de humedales de altura.

Canales (Canals)

Ubicaciones de canales. // Canal locations.

drenutm_line_clip (drainage)

Main drainage waterways. Does not include small rivers and creeks. // Principales vías de drenaje. No incluye pequeños ríos y arroyos.

hidrogeologico poly_clip (hydrogeology)

Hydrogeographical classifications and notes. // Clasificaciones hidrogeográficas y notas.

islas_24k (islands)

Land bodies in the interiors of water bodies (sea, lakes, lagoons), humid areas or flowing water, such as rivers. // Cuerpos de tierra al interior de cuerpos de agua grandes (mar, lagos o lagunas), zonas húmedas o flujos de agua natural (ríos).

lagos (lakes)

Lakes, with names where available. // Lagos, con nombres donde disponible.

rios_Merge_Clip (rivers)

Natural bodies of flowing water (rivers, brooks, etc.). // Los flujos de agua natural (ríos, quebradas, etc.).

cuen_se_bma (Santa Eulalia watershed)

Hydrographic unit with different zones making up the Río Rimac and Río Santa Eulalia watershed.

SEDAPAL_Red_ agua_ 2012 (San Isidro drinking water)

Pipes as part of the drinking water supply system. // Archivo vectorial de las tuberías como parte del sistema de abastecimiento de agua potable.

SEDAPAL_Red_ Alcantarillado_2012 (San Isidro sewage)

Network of primary pipes of the drainage system (sewage). // Archivo vectorial dela red de tuberías primarias del sistema de abastecimiento de desagüe (Alcantarillado).

curvas (topography)

Topography lines with elevation notes. // Líneas de topografía con notas de elevación.

fallas_line_clip (fault line)

Fault lines. // Las líneas de falla.

geomorfologia_clip (geomorphology)

Geomorphological categorizations and notes. // Categorizaciones geomorfológicas y notas.

Suelos (soils)

Soil classifications and notes. // Clasificaciones del suelo y notas.

otrospeligros (geological risks)

Dangers and geological risks identified during field work in areas vulnerable to landslides, floods, and hazards. // Informacion georreferenciada de peligros y riesgo geologico identificados durante los trabajos de campo y gabinete de las zonas vulnerables a deslizamiento, inundacion, peligros.

bocatoma (water intake)

Locations of water intakes and their uses. // Lugares de bocatomas y sus usos.

centrales_ hidroelectricas (hydroelectric plants)

Locations of hydroelectric plants within watershed of Río Rimac and Río Santa Eulalia.

concesiones_ electricas_ generacion (electric generation concessions)

Hydroelectric generation locations with concessions operators. // Informacion tematic proporcianada por la dirección general de electricidad.

Forestal2005_ INRENA_ Clip (land type)

Land types, including forest, grassland, wetland, bodys of water, etc. // Tipos de tierra, incluyendo bosques, pradera, humedales, cuerpos de agua, etc.

presas (dams)

Locations of dams near Santa Eulalia. // Ubicaciones de presas cerca de Santa Eulalia.

CALIDDA_Red_ Gas_2015 (San Isidro gas network)

Network of gas lines. // Red de líneas de gas.

CALIDDA_Valvulas_ Gas_2015 (San Isidro gas valves)

Locations of gas valves. // Ubicaciones de válvulas de gas.

BAS_LIM_ DEPARTAMENTO_ clip (departments)

Department (large geographical administrative area) limits. // Superficie departamental registrada por el INEI año 2007.

BAS_LIM_ DISTRITOS_ clip (districts)

District (small geographical administrative area) limits. // Superficie distrital registrada por el INEI año 2007.

BAS_LIM_ PROVINCIA_ clip (provinces)

Provincial (geographical administrative area) limits. // Superficie provincial registrada por el INEI año 2007.

distrito_ santa_eulalia (Santa Eulalia district)

Boundary of Santa Eulalia. // Límite de Santa Eulalia.

Limite_distrital (San Isidro district)

District boundary. // Limite distrital.

sitios_ arqueologicos_ puntos (archaeological sites)

Archaeological sites identified as points by INC – 2009. // SInformacion tematica de sitios arqueologicos identificados como puntos del INC – 2009.

INEI_Censo_Economico_2008 (San Isidro economy)

Block level information from the 2008 economic census – INEI. // Capa de información a nivel de manzana la cual contiene informacion levantada en el censo economico del 2008 – INEI.

Ingreso_percapita (San Isidro income / per capita)

Income per capita and socioeconomic status, following block-level divisions. // Ingreso per capita y estrato, con división según manzana.

ccpp_staeulalia (Santa Eulalia population centers)

Population centers in Santa Eulalia with data over population and housing from 2007 Census. // Mapa de centros poblados en Santa Eulalia con datos de población y vivienda del “Censo 2007”.

ccpp07_clip (population centers)

Population centers. // Centros poblados.

INEI_Censo_Poblacion_Vivienda (San Isidro population & housing)

Block level information over population and housing from 2007 census. // Capa de información a nivel de manzana del censo de población y vivienda 2007.

Vegetacion (vegetation)

Areas of land use / vegetation / soil/ relief types. // Áreas de uso de la tierra / vegetación / suelo / tipos de relieve.

TEM_HIDRO_UNIDADES_ HIDROGRAFICAS_pfafstetter_ 100000_clip (watersheds)

Hydrographic watershed units identified by INRENA – IRH. // Informacion tematica de unidades hidrograficas elaborado por INRENA – IRH.

MSI_Arbolado_2015 (San Isidro trees)

Survey of georeferenced trees in public space. // Levantamiento de informacion georeferenciada de los arboles sobre espacio público.

MSI_Areas_Verdes_2014 (San Isidro green areas)

Green areas, such as gardens and parks. // Areas verdes, como jardines y parques.

Parques (San Isidro parks)

Parks and plazas. // Parques y plazas.

Urban Metabolic Information System (UMIS) Meta Diagram for Water / San Isidro

Background: Resources flow from the natural environment, into the built environment, and back again.

As urban subsystems become more complex and sophisticated, it is more common to cascade and loop the flows within the built environment, and thus minimize impact on the natural environment.

Because cities survive a very long time, it is not possible to assess flows over the life cycle. Instead flows are typically calculated for a period of one year. These total flows may then be normalized and expressed as a flow per day or per week or per season.


Most of the water for direct use other than drinking (residential and non residential) comes from the Rimac River watershed. Drinking supply for residents and visitors is imported as bottled water. The most common brands of bottled water are reportedly “San Mateo”, a Backus brand, and “San Luis”, a Coca Cola brand.

A large allocation to the water system is “Indirect” water – which includes water used to generate energy for residents and visitors in San Isidro. 72% of Peru’s total electricity generation comes from hydroelectric plants.

Rainfall is a minimal source of water in San Isidro. Nonetheless, San Isidro, like all of Lima, is particularly vulnerable to El Nino storms. In 2017, a record El Nino year, nearly 10 inches of rain fell between January and March, when, on average, the entire rainy season usually total just two inches.


Most of San Isidro’s water allocation from the Rimac is treated at the City Water Factory of La Atarjea located in El Agustino, Lima. Green space irrigation in San Isidro utilizes partially treated water via a water channel, called Surco, sourced from the Rimac. Around 2% of the irrigation water comes from La Atarjea.


Water demand seems to be around the global average, but opinions and studies to date vary on the exact number and there is currently debate on these figures. The Urbinsight project will conduct an audit of residential and commercial use to get a more accurate calculation of of both volume and types of uses by residents and visitors, and by business and industry. The other major sector of demand is “indirect” which for now is a ‘catch all’ category that includes water used to make electricity and other products used by residents and businesses in San Isidro.


Wastewater is treated at the new La Chira plant which opened in 2016 as a service to Sepal, Lima’s Drinking Water and Sewerage Authority. This new facility added much needed capacity to Lima, and is expected to result in cleaner beaches and healthier coastal waters.


The treated La Chira wastewater is discharged into the Ocean via a 3.65 km-long underwater outlet on the Pacific seabed. Water used in green areas and parks returns to the ground or is evaporated. “Indirect” water has a variety of sinks which include waste heat into the air for example.

Explore the diagram information by clicking on the sections above to learn more about the story of water as it moves through the district, from its source locations in the Rimac watershed, through the built environment (demands), and back to nature (sink).

Data for this diagram are courtesy of the Municipality of San Isidro. Three sectors are explored: Household/residential (R and R HH), Non Residential (NR) and Parks or Green Areas (P). The flows are shown in cubic meters per year.

Urbinsight Lima Project Proposals

Proposal 1: Santa Eulalia

Proposal 1: Santa Eulalia

Título: Estudio comparativo de la calidad y percepción del agua entre Pomaticla y la Asociación de Vivienda Huayaringa Alta de Santa Eulalia.

Comparative study of the quality and perception of water between Pomaticla and the Huayaringa Alta Housing Association of Santa Eulalia.


This research will be carried out in the context of the course: “Sustainability of Human Settlements, Community Research, Mapping of Environmental and Social Data,” which identifies the problems in access and quality of water perceived by the populations of different sectors of the district of Santa Eulalia in relation to drinking water, wastewater and natural disasters. The methodology consists of surveys, interviews and physicochemical assessments of water in the selected study areas of Pomaticla and Huayaringa Alta. This research will serve to educate the population, improve public policies for access and quality of water, culture of water payment, water care and management, as well as prevention and contingencies in the face of natural disasters.


Name | Institution | Profession

  • Saul Peralta Landa | Municipalidad de Santa Eulalia | Ing. Industrial
  • José Luis Alarcón | Tello Programa Agua, Clima y Desarrollo- PACyD- GWP | Ing. Ambiental y de Recursos Naturales
  • Carolina De Fátima Ramirez Gonzalez | Ministerio de Agricultura y Riego – MINAGRI | Lic. Administración y Negocios Internacionales
  • Aníbal Gonzalo del Castillo Manco | Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú | Arquitecto
  • Denis Franss Malpartida Ramos | Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina | Biólogo-ecólogo
  • Catherine Ruby Alva Montoya | Fondo de Agua Para Lima y Callao – Aquafondo | Ing. Agrícola
  • Kelly Katherine Salcedo Padilla | Ministerio del Ambiente | Ingeniería Ambiental
  • Eladia Suarez Yauri | Agencia Agraria Santa Eulalia | Ing Agronoma
  • Juan Jose Morante Montenegro |Economista | Gerencia de Políticas y Normas | Sunass
  • José Luis Alarcón Tello | Programa Agua, Cima y Desarrollo – PACyD – GWP | Ing. Ambiental y de Recursos Naturales

Proposal 2: San Isidro

Proposal 2: San Isidro

Identificación de patrones de uso de agua para riego de áreas verdes en la residencial Santa Cruz del Barrio de San Isidro, Lima – Perú.

Identification of patterns of water use for irrigation of green areas in the residential Santa Cruz Neighborhood of San Isidro, Lima – Peru.


The surface area of the green areas of the district of San Isidro is 50,553.77 m². It is estimated that more than 3 million cubic meters of water are used for the irrigation of these areas, on average 78m³ per m², from previous studies it is known that more than 90% of this water comes from surface fresh water (irrigation channels).

The proposed research aims to identify the sources of irrigation water for green areas in residential Santa Cruz and determine the amount used by citizens and local government in this activity, in order to propose sustainable irrigation alternatives, prioritizing the reuse of water resources and the optimization of their use.


Name | Institution | Profession

  • Silvia Marisol Santa Cruz Padilla | Municipalidad de San Isidro | Ing. en Ecoturismo
  • Junior Gil Rios | SUNASS | Ing. Ambiental
  • Oscar Angulo Nuñez | SUNASS | Biólogo
  • Arturo Lazaro Pérez | SUNASS | Economista

Proposal 3: San Isidro

Proposal 3: San Isidro

Identificación de patrones de consumo de agua potable en la residencial Santa Cruz del Barrio de San Isidro, Lima – Perú.

Identification of drinking water consumption patterns in the residential Santa Cruz Neighborhood of San Isidro, Lima – Peru.


The proposed research aims to recognize drinking water consumption patterns in daily activities of homes located in the residential Santa Cruz to identify critical points of improvement and opportunities for change to reduce excessive consumption through feasible strategies.


Name | Institution | Profession

  • Patricia Alata | Lima Cómo Vamos | Comunicadora
  • Melissa Capcha | Grupo GEA | Ing. Ambiental
  • Diego Padilla | Centro Urbes | Biólogo
  • Arturo Salazar | PUCP | Geógrafo
  • Álvaro Torres | Sedapal | Biólogo
  • Lizbeth Cortez | Sedapal | Ing. Ambiental
  • Marcela Calderón | Sedapal | Ing. Ambiental