Major city faces severe water crisis; residents endure weeks without supply – Neefina

Mexico City, home to nearly 22 million people, has been suffering from a dwindling water supply for several months. The city is now dangerously close to a “day zero,” a point when there won’t be enough water for its inhabitants. According to the Water Basin Group of the Valley of Mexico, and covered by local media outlet La Razón de México, this “day zero” may occur on June 26 and continue until September. Inhabitants are already facing adversity as the availability of water declines with many experiencing “days, if not weeks, without running water in their homes”, as mentioned by CBS News contributor Enrique Acevedo. 

“This is a type of water scarcity and water management that the city hasn’t encountered in at least a decade,” Acevedo continues. Public facilities like gyms and parks in Mexico City have begun rationing usage of their amenities due to excessive water usage by guests. 

Juan Ortega, a local resident, told Reuters in January that several conservation measures have been introduced, including not washing cars. He added, “We’re not watering lawns, only plants to keep them alive, and we’ll start using recycled water from washing machines for watering.”

A woman fills a bucket with bottled water at an apartment unit in the Las Peñas neighborhood in Iztapalapa on February 27, 2024 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Arturo Gracia, who operates a coffee shop, says his business has had to resort to paying for a water truck to cater to basic needs like flushing toilets. He believes his business is not the only one affected as other neighborhoods are also facing similar issues. 

This problem has become even more pronounced with Mexico City grappling with soaring temperatures. The water system SACMEX reports that temperatures have risen to almost 85 degrees Fahrenheit and are expected to touch nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit this week with minimum cloud cover, as per The Weather Channel.

Rafael Carmona, director of SACMEX, speaks of an “unprecedented situation”, with falling levels of rainfall being a key factor. Rainfall has been decreasing over the past four to five years, causing a drop in local dam water levels. Lack of adequate water in the supply systems, along with high population, is resulting in a crisis not seen in this or previous administrations.

Locations across Mexico are undergoing various stages of drought with extreme and exceptional levels in several areas as per the country’s drought monitor. In October, 75% of Mexico was under a drought, reported Associated Press. The country’s rainy season is set to commence only around May.

Women wash clothes on the dry banks of the Villa Victoria dam, which is at 30.5 percent of its capacity on February 28, 2024 in Villa Victoria, Mexico.

Acevedo added that “mismanagement of water” also plays a significant role in worsening the situation. He said, “We’ve seen numerous underwater leaks…up to 40% of the city’s wasted water comes from underground leaks. Residential leaks are also common.”

In early February, SACMEX reported numerous leaks in the city which it is attempting to resolve. These leaks were primarily due to “variations in the pressures of the hydraulic network.”

While many fear an imminent “day zero,” not all share this belief. Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is optimistic that the government can circumvent such a situation this year with enough increase in the water supply, as per La Razón de México. Other researchers opine that this could transpire in the coming years.