Rio+20 challenge: access to water in Mexico City

The Christian Science Monitor, 6/12/12

Getting water to its 20 million residents is one of Mexico City’s most vexing problems. At an altitude of more than 7,300 feet, the city takes water from aquifers that aren’t naturally replenished, so it must pump the rest up 3,000 feet to reach residents. Because of sprawl, some 5 percent of Mexico City is not connected to the water supply, says David Vargas, the chief operating officer of Isla Urbana, a nonprofit group that works with residents of Tecalipa, where Garcia Velazquez lives, to build rainwater catchment systems.

Because demand outweighs supply, another 33 percent of Mexico City residents don’t have daily access to water…

Carmen Garcia Velazquez says water dominates their community, rainy season or not. On weeks with public holidays falling on Mondays, for example, the water truck never arrives. So residents often pool money to buy their own private supply. And at least twice a month, she says, the truck arrives without enough water, so some families are left lacking. “There can be fights in the community,” she says. “Most will share a bucket of their own water, but some don’t want to.” She says she tries to help as she can: If a family hasn’t managed their water well one week, she’ll allow the children to bathe at her house before school. “That is what bothers me the most, thinking about the hygiene of my children,” she says.

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