Cancun's Water Quality in Serious Jeopardy: Study Reveals Contamination

"Right to a Healthy Environment" presents a study showing serious contamination conditions in lagoons, groundwater, and coastal areas of Cancun.

Cancun's Water Quality in Serious Jeopardy: Study Reveals Contamination
Cancun's hotel zone. Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

The group "Right to a Healthy Environment" ("Derecho a un Medio Ambiente Sano" or "DMAS") showed the results of a study done with help from the Benito Juarez City Hall in 2021. The study shows that Cancun's lagoons, groundwater, and coastal areas are very polluted.

The DMAS is the same group that has filed several injunctions against the Mayan Train. They complained that the municipal authorities have had this information for at least two years, but they haven't done anything about it. Instead, the city council approved in mid-2022 a new urban development program that increases the number of buildings in cities and allows hotels to be built on public beaches.

This, they say, generates much more stress in areas such as Cancun's hotel zone, where much of the problem is concentrated due to the over-densification that has been going on for more than a decade.

With the help of the Citizen Participation Committee of the Anti-Corruption System of Quintana Roo, DMAS and neighborhood representatives of Cancun's Superblock 15 gave a virtual presentation with slides of Cancun's Urban Development Program (UDP) 2022.

In the slides, they show that the document that was submitted for public consultation last year is very different from the one that was later approved by the city council and is now in effect, with important changes that will have a big impact on the city.

Among the main changes is the elimination of all sports facilities in the city to replace them with recreational spaces, which is a category that is not defined in any UDP.

They also say that the density and height of several lots in Cancun's hotel zone have gone up from 13 and 15 stories to 20 stories and that a lot at the beginning of the hotel zone with a land use code for beach tourism services (SP) was given a new TH/8/N code, which now allows a hotel of up to eight stories to be built there.

Illegal Sewage Discharges by Hotels and Restaurants Contaminating Cancun's Water

Regarding the water quality study, they said that since 2021, hotels and restaurants have illegally dumped sewage into mangrove areas up to 19 times, and there are other places where sewage leaks out of pipes because they are too full.

In addition, the firm in charge of the study, AyMA Ingenieria y Consultora, concluded that the water quality in the urban area of Cancún is from regular to bad, with areas of greater deterioration in various points of the protected natural area Mangroves of Nichupté and the Nichupté lagoon, where it is recognized that there is a discharge with high concentrations of human fecal enterococci.

The sewage system in the hotel zone was built 40 years ago. Since then, it has been damaged, collapsed, and clogged, and its capacity and design have been surpassed. This is because it was built based on land uses, population densities, and resources that were much lower than they are now.