Investing for the future…

Deterioration of water resources occurs increasingly all over the world. Ecuador is not exempt from. The water crisis is mainly due to several reason among them the constant ecosystem degradation due to pollution, inefficient water use, excessive exploitation of underground water reserves. All this adds up to the increasing demand to satisfy human needs for drinking, household, industrial and agriculture requeriments. Important activities for the development of the country such as oil exploitation in the lower areas of reserves, water irrigation systems, hydroelectric concessions, tourism and even the water projects for Quito, have also affected the water availability.

Nowadays, Quito, the capital of the country, has water sources that originate in the moorlands of the western and eastern Andean mountain range; most of them are part of the natural reserves of Ecuador. Nevertheless, in primary sources, water is threatened by inadequate agriculture practices, livestock and forestry practices.

Regarding to this situation, the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito through the Public Company Metropolitan Water and Sanitation (EPMAPS) and The Nature Conservancy decided to promote the creation of the Fund for the Protection of Water –FONAG, this effort is to ensure proper funding for managing and conservating water basins that cover Quito’s population needs.

Our vision

To be the mobilizing instrument that motivates every actor to exercise a responsible and friendly citizenship in favor of nature, especially with respect to water resources in the high Guayllabamba river basin.

Our challenge

To lead processes and consensus through dialogue, appropriate decision-making methods, strengthen research and use of adequate technology to achieve the Integrated Management of Water Resources (GIRH), where active, responsible and liable participation entails sustainable water management.

Our mission

We are an alliance of persons and institutions committed to nature and, together with the local communities, protect, care for, and rehabilitate the environment, especially the water basins that supply water to cover the needs of the Metropolitan District of Quito and its areas of influence, through a financial mechanism that co-finances environmental protection activities.

What is FONAG?

The Fund is a financial mechanism, with the legal figure of a private mercantile trust, under the Securities Market Law of Ecuador. The FONAG is a heritage fund with a useful life of 80 years. Operating as a private mercantile trust fund and legally regulated by Ecuador’s stock market law, its revenues will be used to co-finance environmental activities in favour of water conservation.

During the process of creation of the FONAG, the use of the water basins was defined as unit of analysis under three criteria were identified:

  • Importance for the maintenance of biodiversity,
  • Intensity of the threats and
  • A favorable socio-political and institutional context for the execution of actions.

At the moment, the capital of FONAG includes thecontributionfrom: EPMAPS, The Electric Power Company of Quito (EEQ), The Nature Conservancy, COSUDE/CAMAREN and two of the most solid ecuadorian enterprises, Cervecería Andina and Tesalia Spring Co.

With this vision in mind, the resources invested by FONAG allow the development of research, land titling, surveillance and a control program, valuation of environmental services, sustainable productive systems, education and training, and monitoring and evaluation programs.

The history of a process

The initiative to consider a water conservation mechanism is the result of analysis in reference to the depletion of water sources near the capital city, and the need to turn to water springs on the western Andean range to provide water, as well as to summon the main users whose demand for water resources increases constantly.

The initial analysis was promoted by several national and international environmental non-profit organizations who recommended a percentage contribution on the water and sewage bills for the city of Quito.

This initiative was sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and adopted by the Quito Metropolitan Mayor´s Office (Alcaldía Metropolitana de Quito) through the Public Metropolitan Company of Water and Sanitation (Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento, EPMAPS). Accordingly, the Environmental Fund for the Protection of Basins and Drinking Water (Fondo Ambiental para la Protección de las Cuencas y Agua –FONAG) was created in January 2006.

The Metropolitan Ordinance 199-today Ordinance 213- was issued in 2006 and established a 2% contribution on the sale of drinking water by the Public Metropolitan Company of Water and Sanitation (EPMAPS), to the trust assets for investment in the protection of the water sources and in actions that we carry out to achieve a new water culture that will lead to the Integrated Management of Water Resources (GIRH).

Where are we?

We develop our work, not in an exclusive way but as a priority on the high Pita river Basin (en dónde estamos) (above the intake and the conduction channel), dam basins of La Mica, Sucus, Mogotes and SalveFaccha (and its areas of influence on the Oyacachi parish and other west Andean range moorland), and also on the Atacazo, Pichincha, Antisana and San Pedro water basins. The specific intervention sites must be approved by the Trust Council in their Annual Plan.


FONAG carries out programs and projects that respond to the institutional challenge of building a water culture and achieving integrated water management. The programs have a minimum time scale of 20 years and are part of all FONAG’s actions which cover communication, forestry, environmental education, river basin management training, and the water program. Eighty percent of institutional funds are allocated to develop and to strengthen these programs.

The programs and projects are carried out in FONAG’s area of influence with the participation of different community actors, local authorities and governmental and non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions. FONAG carries out its programs directly, conceiving them as a way of building processes that aim to change people’s attitudes toward nature and encourage responsible water management.

To create a new water culture, at FONAG we work through Programs, processes developed over a minimum of 20 years based on four transversal axes: strengthening alliances, involving groups in productive projects, environmental awareness, and developing systems of governance. The purpose of all these is the creation of an integrated management of water resources and the conservation and maintenance of the hydrographic water basins that supply water to the Metropolitan District of Quito (DMQ).

Communication Program

To promote processes favoring a new water culture, we create alternative communication mechanisms to transmit information about the protection of the water resource to the communities and to position the FONAG as the leader in the processes of the Integrated Water Management.

Program to Restore the Vegetation

We carry out forest restoration and planting activities for the protection of the water resource. Transversal axes include research activities and monitoring in the high Andean plateau and the forests that are essential to protect the water generating springs of the high Guayllabamba river basin that supply water to the Metropolitan District of Quito.

Environmental Education Program “Guardianes del Agua”

This program includes field trips and awareness workshops with children and adolescents to build, through pedagogic mediation, a new water vision and culture involving hands-on attitudes and knowledge that favor the environment and water sources.

Water Management Program

We work to establish an integrated management of the water resources on the high Guayllabamba river basin and areas of direct influence. To support the users´ decision-making processes and the actors involved in the Basin, and to contribute to an integrated planning, a number of studies and technical mechanisms are required based on data collection, information processing, models and technical analyses.

Surveillance and Monitoring Program of Priority Areas

We contribute to the sustainable management of buffer zones in the Antisana Ecological Reserve (Reserva Ecológica Antisana, REA), Cayambe-Coca National Park (Parque Nacional Cayambe-Coca, PNCAY) and the Cotopaxi National Park (Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, PNC), through land legislation of these zones including control systems, surveillance, management support and strengthening the capabilities of the local communities.


These are actions of intervention undertaken by supporting institutions, communities, educational organizations and local governments. They are short-term, with a maximum of 2 years. There are 20 such projects in all the micro river valleys. Twenty percent of the institutional budget is assigned to these projects. The projects are an integral part of the programs, which are led by like-minded institutions with co-financing provided by FONAG.