Litter Aggravates Flooding In Mexico City

Mexico City is in the midst of its rainy season, which means that when the rain comes down hard, as it does on a weekly basis, the litter that residents have haphazardly thrown on the ground takes an insidious toll. When Hurricane Dean brought a total of 3.12 inches (79.25 mm) of rain in three hours last week, a new record for heavy rainfall was set. What ensued was one of the city’s more epic traffic jams and hullabaloos of horn honking as the city’s six million cars sloshed through the flooded streets. In one area, the floodwaters rose 2.6 feet (80 cm), trapping drivers in their cars until rescue officials arrived.

According to the city’s Fire Department and the Public Security Secretariat, the key culprit in the floods was the litter--plastic bottles and wrappers, diapers and more-- clogging the city’s sewers.

Hector Castillo, a sociologist who studies the refuse industry at Mexico's National Autonomous University, told the Houston Chronicle recently that Mexicans have long considered trash, including litter, to be somebody else's problem. That trash pickup in Mexico City and other urban centers has been cost-free and mostly controlled by corrupt labor unions doesn’t help either. We think Mexico City could use stricter fines and education to cure residents of their litterbug tendencies.

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