Explainer: Why a Mexico City water crisis is bad news for the United States


The city of Monterrey in Mexico is grappling with a severe water crisis, despite being an industrial hub and the country’s third-largest city, USA Today reported. Authorities had announced in early June that access to running water would be restricted, with only six hours of access to water per day. Temperatures topped 100 degrees, resulting in dry weather and two of the three main reservoirs serving the city nearly empty. Climate experts blame La Niña for the drop in rainfall. The glaring problem is mainly due to population growth, while the water supply has not been able to cope with it.

The problem is not limited to Mexico and many parts of North America are facing the same problem.

Many Native American tribes along the Colorado River Basin lack access to reliable water sources and safe drinking water, leaving them with no choice but to travel to remote locations for water. obtain.

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The town of Rawlins, Wyoming has faced a water crisis since March, while two towns in Utah were forced to halt construction last year due to a drop in water. water supply. Water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest reservoirs in the United States, were also at historic lows.

Government mismanagement to blame

Environmental advocates believe that certain government policies have also contributed to the problem. For example, beer and soda companies were allowed to extract huge amounts of water even when the region was facing a drought, with production still going on at scale. Another much-needed dam to bolster the water supply was not built in time, aggravating the crisis. To alleviate the problem, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced federal support for those companies that want to set up in southern Mexico.

Is the situation in the United States as bad?

Experts say a crisis on the scale of Monterrey may not be happening anytime soon in the United States, but there are signs it could happen in the future. “We’re really putting a lot of effort into the reliability of our water supply in California and the Colorado River Basin right now,” USA Today said, quoting Mark Lubell, professor of environmental science and policy at UC. Davis.

Factors similar to Monterrey can also be seen in the western United States. More people are moving to cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas as agriculture usurps water from the Colorado River, a pattern similar to what beverage companies are doing in Mexico. Experts also say water use plans are “decades old, overly optimistic and poorly executed”.

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The tribes in the Colorado River Basin, who are entitled to about a quarter of the river’s water supply, face problems due to the lack of proper infrastructure that can ensure water reaches them.

“Existing water infrastructure is deteriorating or inadequate, … (and) investments in water infrastructure have not kept pace with population growth and other needs,” according to a report by the Water and Tribes Initiative 2021.

To prevent the problem from happening again in Monterrey, US authorities must realign water use and supply to reduce dependence on reserves.


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