News Article

Budget Cuts Have Capital Drowning in Water Problems

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 17:31

Mexico City’s water demand is so great, the government must put a plan in place immediately to address the issue, according to Ramón Aguirre, Director General of the city’s water system SACMEX. But at Mexico Infrastructure & Sustainability Summit at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel in Mexico City on Wednesday, he expressed concern about the department’s budget cuts.

“Little by little, we need to increase the budget for water in Mexico City, and this is why it makes no sense to me that, this year, the budget for the department was reduced,” he said. According to Aguirre, Mexico City could be a global reference in water infrastructure given the fact that probably no other city in the world is built directly atop a lakebed.

The water lost in Mexico City’s pipeline system due to leaks in distribution networks amounts to 41 percent. Aguirre highlighted that these are normally small, dispersed leaks that require extensive repair programs. But with the current deterioration of the city’s drainage networks estimated at around 30 percent and an average pipeline age of 58 years, the budget cuts mean Mexico City is drowning in its water issues. “If we do not resolve our problems with water, the city has no future,” said Aguirre.

Leaks are directly related to the pressure on pipelines, and Aguirre said that stress on water in Mexico City is similar to that in Middle Eastern countries. “The degree of pressure is calculated by dividing the authorized volume of water extraction by the volume of water available, and this serves as an indicator to evaluate the sustainability of the extraction of this resource in the long term,” he said. Its use is also suggested as a measure of the vulnerability of the country or of a particular region in the face of water scarcity.

In Mexico, in 2012 the estimated pressure rate on water resources was 17.5 percent, which placed it in the category of moderate pressure above the average estimated for the OECD countries, which is 11.5 percent. Worldwide, Mexico ranks 53rd among the countries with the highest levels of pressure of a total 180 countries.

To communicate the importance of budgetary resources being used for water infrastructure, SACMEX developed the Water Plan for the Future of Mexico City, which lays out the issues facing the city and the investment needed to address them.

The plan requires a MX$53.09 billion investment in drinking water, MX$101.83 billion in drainage and MX$15.5 dedicated to the environment. Combined with other costs, this equates to a total necessary investment of over MX$256 billion.

Aguirre acknowledged that this amount is significant. But in Mexico City, the goal for sustainable consumption of water sources should be 210l per inhabitant per day. With Mexico City’s consumption exceeding this amount by 60l per inhabitant per day, he insisted demand will rapidly overtake supply if no action is taken. “It is a lot of money but the truth is that it is worth much more,” he concluded.