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Residents of one of the world's largest cities may be mostly out of water by summer: 'I don't think anyone is prepared'

These issues wouldn't be nearly as severe if not for Earth's rising temperature, which makes droughts more drastic.

These issues wouldn’t be nearly as severe if not for Earth’s rising temperature, which makes droughts more drastic.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mexico City may be rapidly running out of water.

What's happening?

According to a recent CNN report, Mexico's capital city, which is home to an estimated 22 million people in its greater metropolitan area, is facing an unprecedented water crisis. The city has experienced low rainfall and high temperatures that add to existing logistical problems in its infrastructure. 

As CNN details, the issues stem back to the Spanish conquest of the area in the 16th century, when the colonizers drained the lake upon which the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan had been built, thus disrupting the city's access to waterways and ability to hold water.

Additionally, since the city has rapidly extracted water from its underground aquifer so quickly that it can't be adequately replenished, the entire urban area is sinking at an alarming rate (around 20 inches per year, reported CNN, based on recent research), and about 40% of the water pumped in from outside areas is lost due to leaks.

These issues wouldn't be nearly as severe if not for Earth's rising temperature, which causes the air to absorb more moisture and makes droughts more drastic. 

"Climate change has made droughts increasingly severe due to the lack of water," Christian Domínguez Sarmiento, a scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) told CNN. "[High temperatures] have caused the water that is available in the Cutzamala system [which is part of the supply for the Valley of Mexico that includes Mexico City] to evaporate."

Why is this important?

We all need water to survive, primarily for hydration, but also for cooking, bathing, and sanitation. CNN shared local reporting that a water commission official said that "without significant rain," the Cutzamala water system may be unable to supply Mexico City as early as June 26 of this year, though politicians deny that the issue is this severe, and some noted that the city would not be completely out of water in all places. 

Resident Amanda Martínez told CNN, "I don't think anyone is prepared."

Mexico City could also serve as a case study for other significant areas experiencing droughts worldwide, as dry spells are affecting cities and countries in numerous locations. California, Spain, and Brazil are among the areas that have seen troubling droughts in recent years.

What's being done about this?

There are numerous solutions that the city could adopt to alleviate its water crisis: Fixing leaks, restoring wetlands and waterways, improved rain harvesting, and updated wastewater treatment could all have a tremendous effect on Mexico City's water supply. 

Mexico's water commission, Conagua, says that it's in the middle of a three-year project to improve water infrastructure by digging new wells and installing plants for water treatment, per CNN.

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