Mexico – one of the world’s largest agglomerations facing water crisis

Meksyk

In recent weeks, residents of many neighborhoods in the Mexican capital have been facing a lack of running water. The situation is serious enough to require strong responses from the city government. Will this year be ground zero day for many millions of Mexicans?

Mexico’s water crisis

The population of Mexico City’s urban agglomeration, which includes Mexico City and adjacent suburban areas, currently estimated at more than 22.5 million people, has faced a difficult water supply crisis. The problem is the result of a combination of factors, including. the region’s peculiar geography, disorderly urban development and outdated water supply infrastructure, which is further compounded by the negative effects of climate change.

Over the past few years, Mexico has been experiencing significantly lower than usual rainfall, prolonged periods of drought, and rising temperatures, putting significant strain on an already inefficient system for supplying the water needed to meet the growing needs of the population. Because of this, the authorities were forced to impose severe restrictions on water intake from local sources.

In some parts of the city from December 2023. water is in short supply, and there are still several months until any rainfall can be expected. It is customary for the rainy season here to begin in May and last until September. Last year, much of the country was hit by heat waves that left at least 200 people dead. The researchers concluded that if it were not for progressive climate change, such waves would not have occurred.

Climate impacts have combined with other problems of a rapidly growing city. Experts say the centralized water supply system is not keeping up with population growth. Although politicians are ignoring the situation, some experts are warning that the city may soon experience a so-called “zero day. zero day, a moment when a significant part of the metropolis will run out of water in the taps .

Mexico – difficult location doesn’t help

The metropolis is built on land formerly occupied by lakes, is located in a zone of higher seismic risk and is particularly sensitive to climate change. The history of Mexico ‘s capital dates back to the 14th century, a time when the Aztecs decided to establish the city of Tenochtitlan here. Taking advantage of natural water resources, they built the city on islands and extended it outward through networks of canals and bridges.

However, the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. demolished much of the city, drained the lake bed, filled in the canals and cleared the forests. The conversion of the land for the construction of Mexico led to the degradation of the natural aquatic environment, the effects of which we see today. Wetlands and rivers have been replaced by concrete and asphalt, resulting in flooding in the city during the rainy season and drought in the dry season.

Currently, about 60 percent. water for the city comes from underground layers whose exploitation is so intensive that it leads to the gradual collapse of the capital’s land – a phenomenon occurring at an alarming rate of 50 cm per year! In addition, about 40 percent. water returns to the environment through leaks in the outdated infrastructure, while rainwater is unable to penetrate the city’s concreted surface.

Mexico must take radical action

Cutzamala’s water system, a strategic source of water supply, is also suffering from the drought, which has caused its output to drop to critically low levels. This prompted the authorities to impose even more restrictions on supply. Residents of the capital’s poorer neighborhoods in particular are suffering from an increasingly acute water shortage. Periodic water shortages have already occurred periodically in recent years, every dry season. The situation is such a complex problem that it requires urgent action both in terms of water resources management and adaptation to changing climatic conditions.

Experts point out that without significant rainfall, Mexico could soon find itself in a situation where access to water becomes even more limited and zero day becomes a reality. They stress that without radical changes in management and adaptation, the city could face even more serious crises.

The authorities reassure that such a scenario will not happen. Independent experts and environmental activists, however, are unrelenting in their calls for concrete preventive steps. They propose, among other things. more efficient treatment of wastewater, which would increase water availability, implementation of rainwater harvesting systems that could reduce dependence on the water supply system, and regeneration of rivers and wetlands. These measures could not only increase the availability of water, but also contribute to the greening and cooling of the city.

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