Mexico in the midst of one of the largest water crises in its history

22/03/2021

With 83 percent of the country in some degree of drought, the monopolization of 70 percent of water concessions by only 2 percent of users, and a growing dispute over the liquid, there are at least 41 million Mexicans who lack water on a daily basis and there are still 8.5 million who do not have a connection to the drinking water network.

The country that buys the most water in Latin America, Mexico. Image: Pixabay
The country that buys the most water in Latin America, Mexico. Image: Pixabay

In this context, today is World Water Day, with the theme Let's Value Water, established by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of water, which is already traded as a commodity on the Wall Street Stock Exchange.

Social conflicts in the country over water have increased. The most recent was in 2020 due to the delay in the commitment to deliver water from Mexico to the United States in the context of the International Water Treaty, which led farmers in Chihuahua to take over dams to prevent the extraction of the liquid and forced the authorities to look for other sources to comply with the agreement.

Another case is the construction of the Zapotillo dam and aqueduct in Jalisco, which would flood the town of Temacapulín, and now the state governor Enrique Alfaro is asking the federal government to complete the works to supply water to Guadalajara, despite the fact that they have been stopped by court order due to appeals filed by the affected inhabitants.

There are conflicts in the communities because industry, such as mining, monopolizes water. This sector, during 2014 alone, extracted 437 million cubic meters of the liquid, enough to cover the human consumption of the population of Baja California Sur, Colima, Campeche, and Nayarit, reports a study by CartoCrítica.

Citizen protests against the installation in Mexicali of the Constellation Brands brewery, which, according to environmentalists, would use 44 percent of the liquid available in the area, led the federal government to carry out a consultation, which resulted in the cancellation of this plan.

Drinking water crisis in Latin America. Photo: Voz de América
Drinking water crisis in Latin America. Photo: Voz de América

Currently, there is only 16.7 percent of the national territory free of drought. Only the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Tabasco are free of this problem, according to the Drought Monitor of the National Water Commission (Conagua). All of Mexico City and the State of Mexico have some degree of drought. The Cutzamala System is estimated to be at 40 percent of its capacity in May, and supplies water to 13 municipalities in the capital, according to the agency.

Mexico is experiencing one of the greatest water crises in its history; the approval in 1992 of the National Water Law resulted in the sale and purchase of water, the opening up to large transnational interests, overexploitation, and contamination of the nation's waters, said the Coordinadora Agua para Todos, Agua para la Vida (Water for All, Water for Life Coordinator). It stressed the urgency of respecting the human right to water and sanitation, the need to combat the Covid-19 pandemic with sufficient water in homes and clinics, and the analysis of wastewater.