From May to October each year, the streets of Mexico City overflow. The heavens open up at precisely 4pm each day and the torrent of water unleashed from the somber sky drenches all in its path, trickling through the fractured concrete and overwhelming the capacity of the drainage systems to form a collection of veritable swimming pools, knee deep, at times torso deep, for commuters to negotiate. With this level of continuous rainfall, one would be forgiven for believing that water resources in Mexico should be overflowing. Not so.

 

People walk in a flooded street during rains in Mexico City February 4, 2010. Torrential rain from several different weather systems have created chaos and brought damage to several Mexican states, government met services said. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

Torrential flooding in 2010 that killed 11 people. Source: Reuters

Mexico City is an example of badly-implemented water and waste management infrastructure, and even though the city was built atop the legendary Lake Texcoco during the Spanish colonization, the correct drainage and storage systems have never been installed. So for all the rainfall in Mexico City, the aquifer replenishment rate flounders at just 31.6m3/s compared to an abstraction rate of 59.5m3/s, and from 1986 to 1992, the aquifers were pumped so much that they were reduced by up to 10 meters in some areas. Given the fact that the city and surrounding areas are home to over 21 million people, this is a particularly concerning quandary.

The country relies largely on bottled water, as the largest consumer in the world, and Mexico City imports water from surrounding areas, depending on infrastructure like the Sistema Cutzamala, which provides around 19% of the Federal District’s water supply, imported from the Balsas basin. This weekend, in Mexico City, CONAGUA announced that it will carry out maintenance work on the system, meaning a disruption in the water supply of 410 neighborhoods in the City, and 13 municipalities in the neighboring State of Mexico, potentially affecting up to 5.3 million citizens.

 

 

At this point, innovative water solutions are overdue in Mexico, although several products have been developed to combat the issue of water shortages. A Master’s student in Chiapas recently won an award for developing a solar powered water purification system, and now innovative company Fontus plans to launch a crowdfunding project to raise capital for its Airo and Ryde systems. The company boasts that the water bottles, powered by solar energy, can create up to 0.8 L of potable water from air in just one hour. The system extracts the humidity from the air, uses a small solar panel to create condensation, and thus generates water with a filter to eliminate dust and insects. According to the company website, this technology is currently marketed at extreme sportspeople and mountaineers, and could constitute a life saving device in some occasions. However, on a larger scale, the question must be asked: could this system comprise an effective solution to Mexico’s water shortages?

 

Disclaimer: Mexico Business Publishing is in no way affiliated with Fontus or the development of its technology.

 

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