Mexico: Water Shortages Affecting Nearly 2 Million Residents

Nearly two million citizens have been affected by the recent reduction of water services in the Valley of Mexico. According to Mexican Newspaper El Universal [es], the Cutzamala System, which manages 20% of the drinking water for the valley, is not working at full capacity and cannot supply its own region: 10 districts from the Federal District and 13 municipalities from State of Mexico.

To prevent drought and more severe problems, the first action of reduction was taken during Holy Week and affected more than 700 thousand people. Those suffering from shortages have used the water for domestic use from tanker trucks that visit each neighborhood regularly, says blog Vivir México [es]. In May, the reduction extended to 25% of the water supply throughout the weekends [es], and will prevail that way until further notice.

However, with the aggravating circumstance of the rupture of a water pipe in the State of Mexico [es] the water service was reduced by 50% in several blocks for 48 hours during the last days of May.

Photo by Flickr user Wonderlane. Used following Creative Commons license from

Photo by Flickr user Wonderlane. Used following Creative Commons license from

Jessica Uribe, from the blog Vivir México [es], writes about the uncertainty of the government's actions regarding the water problem:

A pesar de todas estas afectaciones y de que es obvio que se necesita el gobierno federal no ha podido dar una respuesta al gobierno capitalino sobre la inversión que necesita el Sistema Cutzamala para ser rehabilitado y modernizado en su totalidad, esperemos que sea pronto cuando decidan el futuro del más importante sistema de abastecimiento de agua de la Ciudad de México, pues cada vez son más los problemas que tiene y más tiempo el que se tardan en solucionarlos.

Despite all of the impacts and that it is obvious that the federal government has not been able to respond to the capital's municipal governemnt about the economic investment to completely repair the Cutzamala System, let’s hope they will soon decide the future for the most important water system in Mexico City, because there are more and more problems and it takes more time to solve them.

Blogger Lesley Tellez of The Mija Chronicles shares her experience in her first day without water in April:

Then today, we woke up to find we had no water. It’s a problem throughout our neighborhood. Undeterred in my quest to become the cleanest woman in Mexico, I ended up taking a medieval-type shower, heating up water on the stove and then carrying it into the shower in my largest mixing bowls. It actually worked pretty well, to be honest. Something tells me tomorrow it won’t be as fun.

Despite the delicate situation of the neighborhoods with short water supply, some citizens question whether this is the best way to solve the problem. Blogger Daniel Hernández in his blog Intersections reviews some inequalities in the water shortage:

That's 12 days of sporadic, low-pressure water at the tap for who knows how many millions of people. And no water — none — for perhaps millions more. That means dead toilets, no showers, panting plants. Some boroughs and specific neighborhoods have not been affected much (you can guess which), and others have been so severely (guess which again).

(…) Time to make some serious offerings to [prehispanic god] Tlaloc?

Jesús Chaírez comments on his personal blog the contradiction of the water shortage and urban sanitation methods from the government:

Then, like every morning, I looked out my window – this time in amazement: With all the talk of there being a water shortage here in Mexico City I look out my window to see a city crew cleaning the sidewalks of the park across the street, Alameda Santa Maria la Ribera, not with brooms but WATER! The Mexico City government at work using precious water to hose down and clean sidewalks. This is insane, but this is Mexico.

In the blog The Mex Files, the authors mention that the massive reduction of water supply in Mexico City should be considered a warning to cities growing rapidly without taking care of the most basic services:

Of course, “¡Como México no hay dos!” when it comes to geographic and geological challenges, and the strain on a water system in a city that’s grown exponentially over the last half century, coupled with what was considered good engineering practices for the last 500 years (draining Lake Tezcoco) made Mexico City’s water system more vulnerable to dramatic problems than others.


This should be a wake-up call to start paying attention to the basics, but I expect we’ll wake up one morning in Chicago, or New York or London shocked, shocked that OUR systems have just stopped working and we won’t have a clue how it happened. Same way it’s happening in Mexico City. Just not paying attention to the basics of life.

Workers from the Comisión Nacional del Agua (Conagua, Water National Comission) declared to newspaper El Universal [es] that the stability of the Cutzamala System should be regained partially with the repair to several dams that started in April.


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