Water pollution in Mexico

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Apr 14 20:39:53 MDT 2001

NY Times, April 14, 2001

Mexico Grows Parched, With Pollution and Politics


CHIMALHUACÁN, Mexico, April 13      — In this grim slum 12 miles past
Mexico City's eastern edge, the lives of thousands of families depend on
Enrique García and his partners at the local pump house.

But, as Mr. García said as he watched thousands of gallons flow from a
dwindling underground aquifer, "Who knows if it'll last?"

The Chimalhuacán slum is growing rapidly, and the water may turn toxic
before it runs dry: the pump house lies a quarter mile from an enormous
open sewer and the municipal garbage dump.

Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox, calls water "a national security
issue," and it is not hard to see why. Mexico lies along the same latitudes
as the Sahara, and nearly half its land is bone dry. It has less drinking
water per capita than Egypt, and 60 percent less than it did 50 years ago.

At that rate, the harsh truth is that someday — not this year, maybe not
this decade, but before too long — Mexico could start dying of thirst.

Roughly 12 million people, one out of eight Mexicans, the poorest of the
poor, have no easy access to drinking water at all. Those who can afford it
pay dearly to have it trucked to their homes. Those without the money have
to drink what they can find. Bad water kills thousands every year.

"There is no place in this country, with the exception of maybe one or two
cities, like Monterrey, where you can drink the water without worrying
you're going to get sick," said Victor Lichtinger, the environmental
minister. The national water commissioner, Cristóbal Jaime Jaquez, says 73
percent of Mexico's water, underground and above, is contaminated and a
danger to public health.

Almost every river and stream in the nation is polluted — 93 percent of
them, the government says.

Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/14/world/14MEXI.html

Louis Proyect
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