Amid drought and climate crisis, the Mexican state Querétaro faces possible privatization of its water

The messages read: “It's not a drought, it's looting” and “The people of Santiago Mexquititlan demand no more plundering of water. Contracting must be by the people for the people.” Photo by the author, used with permission.

Mexico finds itself facing an intensification of the effects of the climate crisis, with increasingly severe droughts, floods, and fires throughout the country. With people beginning to suffer from water shortages, struggles for access to water have been escalating in the country over the last decade.

Querétaro, a state in central Mexico with high rates of water stress and vulnerability, is the only state that has never had specific local water legislation. Currently, the state's entire territory is affected by drought, and over a third of the area is suffering from severe drought. Moreover, Queretaro's 26 main dams are emptying.

On March 31, two bills were proposed that sparked public concern.

#Alert : They are warning of water privatization in #Querétaro; they intend to fast-track the approval of the initiative.
Around 30 environmental and activist organizations protested to reject the two initiatives presented to the @Legislatura_Qro.

Both proposals have been criticized by civil society organizations as being risky because they do not address important aspects of water regulation, such as the impact on ecological sustainability, the rural context, and climate change, and also because they establish privatized management of drinking water services, a model that has been widely questioned for its negative impacts on the human right to water

UN rapporteur @SRWatSan has already warned of the risks to #HumanRights of privatizing public water services; why do we keep insisting on it?

The governor of Querétaro State, the State Water Commission, and some legislators argued that the proposed legislation did not seek to privatize the state's water but rather to award contracts for public services to private companies. However, various civil society groups and activists pointed out that “awarding contracts for services” is a form of privatization according to the United Nations Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. 

Networks from all over the country, among them the Coalition of Workers in Defence of Public Water Services, the National Coalition of Water for All, the Mexican Waterways Network, the Coalition of Mexican Organisations for the Human Right to Water, and the Freshwater Action Network Mexico (FANMex), warned about the potential impacts of approving the initiatives, considering the effects that privatization has had in other Mexican states and specifically in Querétaro over the last two decades.

Osc identify 3 risks in #waterwiththe #Queretaro water law:
⚖️With no real inclusion of #HumanRights or water justice.
🌎With no basis for holistic management of the #ClimateEmergency
⛔#ContractingOutIsPrivatization and #PrivatizationIsNotAnOption

While contracting for services is currently used in the state capital, the formalization of this model would open the door to normalizing what, according to academic and journalistic research, is one of the main causes of the current local water crisis. In recent years, conflicts caused by water grabs have sparked demonstrations in Amealco, Cadereyta, and other towns in Querétaro. 

With the hashtag #AguasConLaLeyDeAguas (Water with the Water Law), organizations and residents are calling for an open parliament to curb the risks and include citizens’ proposals.

The local parliament has not yet envisaged opening spaces for public participation, despite the fact that this is an obligation under the Escazú Agreement, an international treaty that deals with access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, and to which Mexico is a party. 

#OpenParliament is not a forum or a few days to send opinions by mail, it is a broad, timely, transparent, inclusive and adequate process in line with the obligations and standards of #EscazúAhora and the human right to water. #AguasConLaLeyDeAguas ⚠️💧of #Querétaro

*This text was prepared with contributions from the legal team of the ecological and artistic action group Bajo Tierra Museo del Agua in Querétaro

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