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CNN: Mexico City months away from running out of water

CNN: Mexico City months away from running out of water

Image source: © canva
Natalia Witulska,
26.02.2024 16:30

The water crisis in Mexico City has been ongoing for several months now, leaving the citizens struggling to function normally. The situation is dire, and there are concerns that the city could soon run out of water. The people of Mexico City fear that things will only get worse if the crisis is not resolved soon.

Mexico City is a massive urban area with an estimated population of up to 25 million people, making it the fourth most populous city in the world after Tokyo, Seoul, and Jakarta. Unfortunately, the city is currently experiencing a severe water crisis due to the various issues that arise from climate change. As a result, residents are concerned that they may not have sufficient access to water.

Due to extended periods of low rainfall, longer dry spells, and high temperatures, the strain on the water system has increased significantly. As a result, the system is currently unable to meet the rising water demand. To manage the situation, the city authorities were forced to impose restrictions on water pumped from reservoirs.

Speaking to CNN, Christian Domínguez Sarmiento, an atmospheric scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said that "several neighbourhoods have suffered from a lack of water for weeks, and there are still four months left for the rains to start."

Lack of water in Mexico

Three CNN journalists, Laura Paddison, Jack Guy, and Fidel Gutiérrez, travelled to Mexico to speak with residents of the metropolis. They discovered that some residents have been experiencing difficulties accessing running water for the past three months. At times, the water system will start functioning for an hour or two, but the water flows in a small trickle, barely enough to fill a few buckets. There are also instances when there are several consecutive days without water.

Alejandro Gomez, a resident of Tlalpan district in Mexico, recently spoke to reporters about the water crisis in his area. He mentioned that there is no large storage tank in the district, which makes it impossible to store water and deliver it using trucks. He acknowledged the fact that the current situation is very difficult and complicated. Water shortages in the Tlalpan district are not new, but the problem has worsened for many months due to drought, hot weather, and lack of rainfall.

Many city residents believe politicians are not taking this issue seriously and downplaying the water access problem. Meanwhile, experts are concerned that Mexico is rapidly approaching 'day zero', which is the day when the taps will run dry in most districts of the metropolitan area.

Mexico City residents can soon lose access to fresh water
Mexico City residents can soon lose access to fresh water (canva)

Problems for the people of Mexico

The challenges faced by the Mexican capital arise, in part, from its geographical location. The megalopolis sits at an elevation of 2,240 meters. Furthermore, it is situated on an island surrounded by the remnants of a once-substantial lake that has been largely drained. It can be briefly stated that the city gradually settles into a highly compact and clay-rich soil. This soil composition poses significant risks during earthquakes and contributes to the gradual subsidence of the city’s oldest districts.

Mexico City has seen a significant reduction in wetlands and rivers replaced by asphalt. This has resulted in severe floods during the rainy season and extremely hot roads in the dry season. Underground aquifers provide about 60% of the city's water, but they are being over-extracted, causing the city to sink at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, the underground water is not replenished quickly enough due to a lack of rain and frequent droughts. The remaining 40% of the city's water comes from outside sources, but up to 40% is lost due to leaks during transportation.

According to an article on cnn.com, the water system in the Valley of Mexico consists of a network of reservoirs, pumping stations, canals, and tunnels that provide approximately 25% of the region's water supply. Unfortunately, the ongoing drought has significantly affected this system. Currently, only 39% of the reservoirs are filled, which is a cause for concern.

Severe droughts in Mexico

A report presented in February 2024 by the National Water Commission reveals that approximately 60% of Mexico is facing moderate to severe drought conditions. Meanwhile, nearly 90% of Mexico City is experiencing a severe drought, and this situation is expected to worsen as there are still several months until the rainy season starts.

"We are around the middle of the dry season with sustained temperature increases expected until April or May," June Garcia-Becerra, an assistant professor in engineering at the University of Northern British Columbia, told CNN.

Residents of Mexico City are becoming increasingly concerned about the water crisis and the possibility of 'day zero' when water could run out in most neighbourhoods. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a special press conference on February 14th to address the issue. The head of state reassured the public that there was no need to fear and that the 'day zero' would not come. He also stated that his political opponents attempted to create panic among the population.

Experts warn, however, that the possibility of 'day zero' is not imaginary. They predict that Mexico City is at risk of running out of water. Fabiola Sosa-Rodríguez, who is in charge of economic growth and environment at the Metropolitan Autonomous University, believes that 'day zero' could occur even before the rainy season.

Source: edition.cnn.com

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