19 | AGO | 2019
Santa Lucía Airport could threaten water supply, study shows
The Santa Lucía Air Base is located near the aquifers of the Mezquital Valley, in Texcoco, and Cuautitlán-Pachuca, over which the new air terminal will be built - Photo: Mario Jasso/CUARTOSCURO.COM

Santa Lucía Airport could threaten water supply, study shows

15/06/2019
16:31
Astrid Rivera
Mexico City
-A +A
In 2016, CONAGUA warned that the Cuautitlán-Pachuca aquifer had been overused for decades

The International Airport that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to build at the Santa Lucía Air Base in the State of Mexico will require 211,800 cubic feet of water (1.58 million gallons) to operate each day, only to meet the consumption of passengers.

According to an Environmental Impact Assessment presented by the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) before the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), 1.58 million gallons of water will be needed each day to meet the consumption of users.

Moreover, the report conducted by the Engineering Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) proposes to install a water treatment plant for landscape irrigation, which should have an estimated capacity of 158,916 cubic feet per day.

The report claims that the water will be extracted from wells located in the Military Air Base No. 1, though their exact location and capacity are not specified.

The SEDENA warned that if the project should require other water sources, they shall be determined in agreement with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA).

The Santa Lucía Air Base is located near the aquifers of the Mezquital Valley, in Texcoco, and Cuautitlán-Pachuca, over which the new air terminal will be built.

The Cuautitlán-Pachuca aquifer spans a surface area of 1,653 square kilometers (638.2mi2) and is located to the north of Mexico City, contiguous to the State of Mexico and Hidalgo. However, specialists have warned that there could be a water shortage in neighboring municipalities if the terminal is built.

Ricardo Ovando, member of the “Agua para Todos” (Water for Everybody) National Coordination, has argued that the aquifer is already being overused: In 2002, it showed a deficit of 1.41 billion cubic feet per year. In 2018, CONAGUA reported a deficit of 3.74 billion cubic feet.

“That amount of water would be enough to fill up the Azteca stadium 106 times. We are talking about a gargantuan amount of water that will not be recharged into the aquifer,” he stressed.

In 2016, the CONAGUA conducted a technical report on the Cuautitlán-Pachuca aquifer. The government body warned that the aquifer has been overused for decades and thus refused to grant any concessions in the area.

“This water resource should be subject to a sustainable extraction and use to avoid overuse and depletion,” the institution recommended three years ago.

On May 9, the SEMARNAT launched a public consultation for the construction of the Santa Lucía Airport, which closes on June 12. This process will entail a thorough revision of the Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA) on the part of the Defense Ministry.

Tiahoga Ruge, an environmentalist and former member of SEMARNAT, pointed out that no project should be built without a proper environmental impact assessment, adding that the government had to perform all studies needed in order to determine the impact of the new international airport.

UNAM investigator Luis Zambrano commented that the MIAs were not meant to justify the construction of a project, but are supposed to help determine whether a project of this magnitude should be built in the first place.
 

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