Mexico City still has time to prevent a water crisis

The water crisis in Cape Town isn't a reality far-removed from Mexico City, where a drought could have a terrible impact on our water supply
Mexico City still has time to prevent a water crisis
Araceli Calva
Mexico City
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Taking a shower or flushing the toilet are both ordinary actions of our everyday lives. However, this could change in the next few years due to a potential water scarcity – especially if there were to be a drought, which would cause a sudden crisis in Mexico City.

In recent weeks, the world has been shaken by the news that Cape Town, in South Africa, will become the first city in the world to suffer from water scarcity. Next July 9, four million people will have no more water supply and from this day and onwards, people in this city will only have access to 25 liters of water per day.

The situation in Cape Town is the combination of several factors (a drought, increase in population density, and thus, water consumption) which may replicate in other cities of the world.


Cape Town might become first major city to run out of water

South Africa’s main tourist hub moved its estimate for “Day Zero”—when its taps are expected to run dry—to July 9
Cape Town might become first major city to run out of waterCape Town might become first major city to run out of water

Mexico City will not be the exception, especially because this is the fourth most populous city in the world – with 20.8 million inhabitants – and with a growing problem of water shortage.

According to Ramón Aguirre, director of the Water System of Mexico City, it's urgent to make this issue a priority and launch actions to stop what could become a severe water crisis in Mexico City, and, thus, a severe crisis for millions of people.

How to avoid the crisis

Mr. Aguirre calls to implement actions such as an infrastructure revamping to recycle water in the city, as well as to find new water supply sources so that future generations can count with several water supply sources instead of depending on the exploitation of a single aquifer.

To achieve the above, it would be necessary to make an investment of MXN$ 250 billion in Mexico City alone, in the next 50 years; that is, to invest MXN$ 5.5 billion per year – which means allocating more than the double of resources currently destined for this purpose.

If we were to do this, now, in half a century Mexico City would have progressed a 2% each year in solving its problems with the quality and sustainability of water supply.

Mr. Aguirre adds that the decline in the water service will not be sudden. “We cannot say that 2030 is our deadline [for a water crisis] because there will be a gradual decline in the service. It will be harder to supply water to all.”

Droughts, the trigger of water shortages

According to Mr. Aguirre, however, the great possibility of a drought is a serious risk in Mexico City.

“If we have dry years and the damns of the Cutzamala system are unable to supply enough water to the city, and we have less than half of our water supply capacity available – a probable scenario – then yes, we could be facing a crisis,” he cautions. If the above came to pass, millions of people would be left without water.

This is why Mr. Aguirre, head of this government department since 2007, urges Mexico City inhabitants to modify their consumption habits and cooperate more with authorities, reporting water leaks, for instance,  given that the city has one of the highest water consumption rates per inhabitant and address despite having one of the lowest water supplies per capita in the world.



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