The shortage of water is seriously affecting Mexico City and Sao Paulo

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Mexico City and Sao Paulo are the only two Latin American cities near the maximum global water stress index

The shortage of water is seriously affecting Mexico City and Sao Paulo

The most important data associated with the shortage of drinking water or water stress suffered in the Latin American region, contrast markedly with the well-known properties of the continent in terms of its general hydrology. In the first place, according to estimates of the "Iagua" web portal, a third of consumable water worldwide is concentrated only in the Latin region, which is equivalent to 33% of its total. The same reality is translated into an allocation of 22,929 cubic meters per person per year, surpassing by 300% the statistical average of other regions of the planet.

Leer en español: La escasez de agua afecta gravemente a Ciudad de México y Sao Paulo

In spite of all these characteristics, scarcity is due to factors such as an irregular distribution of rainfall, coupled with the participation of climate change in droughts and floods, the absence of optimal infrastructure systems for the distribution of vital liquid, and lack of treatment platforms which have caused a total of 37 million Latin Americans to have serious access problems to these water resources. According to a recent list carried out by the BBC, during 2014, Mexico City and Sao Paulo are the only two Latin American cities near the maximum global water stress index only surpassed by cities such as Moscow, Istanbul, and Cape Town.

The problem of the shortage of drinking water in Mexico City: Main causes and alternative solutions

Several factors have led this South American megalopolis to have the eighth place in the ranking of the cities with the highest water stress in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the breaking point of such a contingency could be exceeded by 2030, only if the necessary measures are not taken. A final factor conditioned not only by the absence of nearby sources of supply but by the evident demographic explosion that has elevated its population to values higher than 21 million inhabitants.

It is estimated that from the total volume consumed each day by the capital, 40% must be imported from neighboring regions. The Iztapalapa delegation is also one of the sectors most affected by the aforementioned deficit, an area that has increased its demand by 20% after the recurrent heat waves and after the recent diversion of 700 thousand liters of water to the region of crops in the Lerma Valley.

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So far, the plans to overcome these problems include some measures implemented by the national government in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Objective 6 of said regulation establishes the need for plans that address the problem from a social, governmental, private and formative dimension through the participation of different schools and universities.

The drought in Sao Paulo and its close relationship with the effects of global climate change

Due to its location in relation to the Brazilian Atlantic area, the phenomenon of a shortage of drinking water in this city is caused by the prolonged deficit of rain to which it has had to submit. Two of the most serious episodes in its history have occurred recently, mainly in the interval between 2015 and 2017. On both occasions, the reservoirs of the city were by values lower than the 15% required and various government agencies such as police, it was necessary to implement measures such as the transfer of water in tanker trucks.

A large part of this climatological delirium is related to the disappearance of the nearby Amazon rainforest, with São Paulo being one of the districts benefiting from this consequent rainfall. According to other studies carried out by Antonio Donato Nobre, a scientist from the Amazon Regional Articulation Organization (ARA), the Amazon forest contributes to the atmosphere a quantity of water vapor equivalent to 20,000 million tons of water. A volume whose trade winds transported over diverse regions of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina and whose magnitude exceeds in some 3000 billion tons the volume of daily water that the Amazon river pours on the Atlantic ocean.

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Other countries in Latin America at serious risk

With respect to the other countries of the Latin American region, it is possible to affirm that not a few countries can escape the inability to supply their urban and cultivated spaces with water. The city of Lima is also included in the counting of all this. According to the analysis of the World Economic Fund, in Peru, 150 liters per person per day are consumed. Measure similar to the consumption index of many European countries. Regarding the case of Colombia, the melting of important glacial layers has increased the use of treatment plants by 50%, even though cities such as Cali, Manizales, and Bogotá are excluded.

Because it contains the driest point on earth, the Atacama Desert, Chile closes numerous global water analyzes. Phenomenon aggravated by the increase in mining activity to industrial activities capable of degrading the soils themselves. To conclude, it is possible to affirm that the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) has been one of the last institutions that has been able to accurately calculate the fact that in order to solve the widespread, shortage of drinking water in these and other Hispanic countries, an investment equivalent to 0.3% of GDP before the arrival of the year 2030 is necessary for the future.


LatinAmerican Post | Abraham Nuñez

Translated from "La escasez de agua afecta gravemente a Ciudad de México y Sao Paulo"