Mexico City Nears Day Zero, When It Could Run Out of Water

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Mexico City could be just weeks away from Day Zero, the day when the city runs out of water supplied by the Cutzamala water system. Water reservoirs in the city recently hit historic lows, and amid ongoing drought conditions and a heat dome, the city could face Day Zero by June 26.

The Cutzamala water system supplies about 25% of Mexico City’s water, while about 60% comes from underground aquifers that are over-exploited and have had issues dating back to the 16th century, CNN reported.

 

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“When the Spaniards arrived on the continent, they drained the lakes on which the city was was built,” said Caroline Houck, senior editor at Vox, as reported by Marketplace. “And so all of the impervious surfaces that have been built on top of those don’t really allow for the rainwater that does fall to replenish the aquifers.”

As of March 2024, the Cutzamala water system reached a historic low of about 38% capacity, NPR reported.

Starting October 2023, Mexico City began tightening the amount of water supplied by the Cutzamala system and reducing the flow rate. The city has also called on citizens to drastically cut back on water usage.

However, while water conservation by the public has helped in similar crises, including one made famous in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018, Mexico City also faces major water losses from its infrastructure. As Fast Company reported, about 40% of the city’s water is lost through leaks, and additional water is lost to theft, as organized crime groups steal public water for agricultural use or to resell back to the public at inflated rates.

Without rain, Day Zero is expected to come by June 26, Mexico Business News reported.

“This problem has worsened in the last four years, there has been no rain, and for this reason the dams have very low levels,” Alejandra Margarita Méndez Girón, general coordinator of the National Meteorological Service, said in a press release. “We have had up to 93 percent of the region with severe to moderate drought.”

But even with rain, Mexico Business News reported that a 2022 study by the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) found only about 42.5% of the country’s groundwater was fit for human consumption. Further, experts fear that rainfall will bring false hopes, when the infrastructure still needs attention to prevent future shortages.

Officials noted that the El Niño climate event, heat waves and a decline in rainfall have all contributed to the current water shortages, although some politicians have argued there is no “Day Zero” ahead.

The rainy season is expected to begin in June. But many citizens have already reported water shortages, and some neighborhoods have experienced water scarcity for years, CNN reported.

“There is a clear unequal access to water in the city and this is related to people’s income,” Fabiola Sosa-Rodríguez, head of economic growth and environment at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City, told CNN.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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