The low investment rates in water infrastructure projects and the insufficient maintenance of existing infrastructure led Mexico to not meet the population's need for water access, an issue that has been transferred to the industrial sector, which faces challenges such as low water quality.
Rubén Muñoz, President of the Chamber of Deputies’ Commission for Water Resources, Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that of the country’s 3,960 wastewater treatment plants, over 1,330 are not operational as municipal authorities in charge of them do not have the resources to pay for the energy required to run them. Furthermore, he said that over 1,255 plants do not treat the water properly to meet SEMARNAT NOM-01’s minimum requirements. “This means that we are only treating 32% of the water,” Muñoz said, adding that Mexico must figure out how to create a market for wastewater to supply the agriculture and manufacturing industries.
In the past, Muñoz has pronounced on water issues. He stressed that authorities must work on actions to avoid a future water crisis. Muñoz suggested upgrading irrigation systems for the country's farmers to avoid wasting water. Similarly, he highlighted metropolitan areas waste 45% of water via leaks, as reported by MBN.
Muñoz stressed the main issue is financing. He mentioned that of the 2,320 operators in the country, only 20 operate with black numbers while the remaining operate under technical and financial bankruptcy. He associated this issue with inappropriate billing systems, as the water distribution service is not being properly charged, resulting in losses of MX$155 billion (US$8.8 million).
While the budget for water infrastructure has increased in recent years, Muñoz said it is not sufficient. The budget for water projects in 2023 accounts for MX$68.7 billion (US$3.9 billion), the highest amount in recent years. However, the country needs to invest another MX$50 billion (US$2.8 billion) to ensure water access and avoid water shortages like the ones experienced in 2022 in Mexico’s northern area, this investment could also help the country to meet the UN’s recommendation of investing at least 1% of the national GDP in water-related issues.
According to CONAGUA, the largest water-consuming industries are agriculture, livestock and aquaculture, which consume over 76% of the concessioned water. They are followed by domestic-urban usage, consuming 15%; industry, trade and services (5%) and energy generation, excluding hydroelectric power, with only 4% of the water, as reported by MBN.