Water is fundamental to human survival. However, half of the population of Mexico lacks drinkable water. These seven facts highlight how limited access to clean water can intensify poverty in Mexico.
7 Facts About Access to Clean Water in Mexico
- Water insecurity. 52 percent of people in Mexico face water scarcity. Mexico has an insufficient water supply that cannot sustain a population of 125.5 million people and results in about 65 million people struggling with water scarcity. This issue intensifies during Mexico’s driest month, April, as people face droughts that limit their access to water even further.
- Natural Disasters. Natural disasters negatively affect access to clean water. Climate change brings hotter temperatures and droughts that can possibly dry up Mexico’s vital water sources. Earthquakes can destroy water purification plants and break pipelines in Mexico, leading to floods of toxic waste. These sudden events can lead to an unpredictable water crisis for those affected.
- Polluted Water. An aging pipe system leads to an inadequate water supply. Around 35 percent of water is lost through poor distribution, while faulty pipelines lead to pollution. The city of Tijuana is overwhelmed with toxic sewage water caused by failing pumps. The city of San Diego, in the U.S., is using $300 million to clean up and prevent pollution that comes to the city’s South Bay region from Tijuana.
- Mexico City is sinking. The populous capital is sinking up to 12 inches annually due to the lack of groundwater. Consequently, floating houses pollute waterways and lead to further destruction of infrastructures. The city plans to modernize hydraulics or implement artificial aquifers to combat water scarcity threatening aquifers that citizens depend on.
- Rural Towns. Rural regions are overlooked in favor of cities when deciding important construction of water systems. Water systems that run through rural towns are riddled with pollutants, making the water undrinkable. The town of Endhó dangerously uses Mexico City’s polluted water for farming since it does not have access to clean water. Some households have no running water so they drink from polluted lakes because of the expenses of bottled water. To prevent these health concerns, government agencies are working to expand waterworks throughout rural areas.
- Regulatory Laws. Water laws are not enforced. The Mexican government is responsible for regulating access to clean water but, over time, laws were disregarded. Citizens demand for water and agriculture to boost the economy results in over-pumping of groundwater. About 60 percent of groundwater being used in Mexico is tainted. This could be prevented by upholding Mexico’s Environmental Standard NOM-001-SEMARNAT-1996.
- Vulnerable Populations. Children are vulnerable to arsenic that contaminates the drinking water. Mexico’s regulations allow 25 µg/L of arsenic in the drinking water which considerably surpasses the World Health Organization’s (WHO) suggestion of a maximum of 10 µg/L. This poses a dire situation in which 6.5 million children drink this hazardous water, putting them at risk of severe health consequences including cancer.
Access to clean water is necessary in order to maintain good health. Many people in Mexico struggle with water insecurity as well as with access to a safe drinking source. The nation is working to fix its outdated infrastructure to bring improvements necessary to solve the water crisis in both urban and rural regions.
– Hannah Nelson