Mexico City Aims for Water Self-Sufficiency by 2020

The top environmental official in the Mexico City government, Martha Delgado Peralta, said recently the city was launching a new water sustainability policy to guarantee self-sufficiency and supply for future generations. The target is ambitious -- to reach self-sufficiency by 2020 -- and the government faces many serious hurdles. The booming megalopolis of 20 million people currently relies on several outside water sources, some of them rivers up to 80 miles away. The water must be pumped uphill over the mountains that surround the Valley of Mexico via a complex and energy-intensive system.

The pressures on the water system are such that the city's burgeoning population now extracts water from its aquifers more than twice as fast as they are replenished. As a result, the city is sinking on top of the aquifer that supplies it. It has fallen nearly 30 feet in the last century and drops as much as 15 inches a year in some areas.

Delgado Peralta noted that one of the keys to ensuring the viability of local water sources was to broaden reforestation programs and conserve forests, which she called "natural water factories."

Currently, nearly 11 cubic meters of water are lost per second in Mexico City due to leaky pipes. A plan to eliminate the leaks in part by replacing old pipes has been moving slowly. The city also plans to increase wastewater treatment, restore reservoirs within the city limits, and the construct wells to capture more rainwater. The Valley of Mexico treats less than 10 percent of its wastewater at present. She added that the city may have to hike rates in order to pay for the new initiatives. :: Via El Universal (Spanish link)

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