Solutions for Mexico’s Water Management ChallengesBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 11/13/2019 - 15:16
Managing Mexico’s water resources and infrastructure will take a concerted effort between public entities and the private sector, Federico Casares, Business Development and Institutional Affairs Director at Veolia, said at Mexico Infrastructure & Sustainability Summit 2019, held at the Hotel Marquis in Mexico City on Wednesday. “Public-private partnerships are fundamental to water infrastructure development in Mexico,” he said.
Casares was speaking as part of a panel discussing Solutions for Mexico’s Growing Water Management Challenges. Moderator Diego Torroella, Director General of Tenova TAKRAF, outlined those challenges: “Water management is important, given the accelerated population growth that we are facing and also, the climate change conditions that are impacting how water is used and managed.”
The panelists agreed that Mexico lacks the resources to satisfy the country’s infrastructure needs, which is where public-private partnerships (PPPs) could come in, with a caveat. “Private investment does not necessarily mean the service becomes private too,” said Jesús Torres Roldán, Director General of TECSA and IACMEX, highlighting the necessity for improved infrastructure. “Mexico is ranked 73rd globally in terms of hydrostructure, below Indonesia.”
Roldán also said that successful management is possible but that the issue needs to be addressed holistically. “Success is achieved through the adequate and effective use of water that is also sustainable and that generates little waste. That is, for us, the most important factor to keep in mind.” Casares went a step further. “Well-defined rules help reach a broader coverage and a quality service, but most importantly, legal and financial clarity will set the ground to achieve successful water management.”
Given its gaps in water infrastructure, a key concern for Mexico is supply. Gerardo González, Planning Director of SACMEX Mexico City, suggested that addressing necessary sustainability issues now would provide benefits later. “Addressing sustainability will make the infrastructure and the water networks more efficient. In the long run, this will contribute to people’s well-being as they won’t suffer further complications regarding water supply,” he said.
Gonzalez highlighted the work that Mexico City is doing to address its enormous water networks. “Right of water access, drainage treatment and reuse, sustainability and environmental management, structural transparency of the water area and transversal axes are key subjects that determine and conform water management in Mexico City.” Efficiency in managing supply is another requirement, said Torres Roldán. “Considering that 11 percent of water is not collected in Mexico, we should try to optimize the usage of our resources.”
Innovation should also play a role in resolving the plethora of water-related issues the country faces. “Smart Cities and the technology involved will be a great next step for water management,” Casares said. “By monitoring water systems in real time through mobile apps we can greatly improve our services to communities.” Torres Roldán added that “technology must be used as an example of progress to keep growing an increasing management practice.”