Millions at Risk: Mexico City Faces Water Crisis

For its 22 million inhabitants, one of the biggest and most densely inhabited cities in the world is about to run out of water, or have very little left. According to UPI, this situation has led to demonstrations in Mexico City, where aquifer levels have dropped to historic lows. According to atmospheric scientist Christian Domínguez Sarmiento, "there are still four months until the rains start, and several neighborhoods have suffered from a lack of water for weeks."

There has been some discussion over the exact date of the city's "day zero," which according to Live Science is the point at which all "freely-available water services" will cease to exist. CNN reports that an official has said that it may occur as soon as June 26 if there is not any substantial rain in the city. Others disagree that there will be a "day zero" soon.

Although the city has been suffering from water shortages for years, a number of issues, such as a protracted drought and intense heat, are making the situation worse.

About 60% of the water in Mexico City comes from an almost exhausted subterranean aquifer; the other 40% is brought in by external pumps. Leaks lose a significant portion of the pumped water and are becoming worse. By the end of January, one of the biggest systems was only pumping 39.7% of its capacity, compared to 54% the year before.

According to Jorge Alberto Arriaga of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, "we are extracting water at twice the speed that the aquifer replenishes." The city is sinking at an incredible pace due to groundwater draining—20 inches annually since 1950.

A few political figures have been downplaying the problem, such as Martí Batres Guadarrama, the mayor of Mexico City, who says it is just "fake news" that competing politicians are spreading. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico has reassured citizens that the administration is pursuing answers.

The Metropolitan Autonomous University's director of economic development and ecology, Fabiola Sosa-Rodríguez, tells CNN that she has been alerting authorities to the issue for years. She suggests repairing inefficient leaks, reclaiming wetlands and rivers, and enhancing wastewater treatment as remedies. "There is a clear unequal access to water in the city and this is related to people's income," she added. She points out that water restrictions have been in place for years and occur more often in impoverished areas.

Not all of the time was water a problem in the area. Tenochtitlan was constructed in the year 1325 on an island surrounded by lakes and swamps during the reign of the Aztecs. out until the Spanish arrived in the city in the 1500s and drained the lakebeds below to dry out the soil, the city was linked by canals and bridges.


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