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This City Is Just Months Away From Running Out Of Water

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This City Is Just Months Away From Running Out Of Water

The city’s vulnerability is deeply rooted in its historical development.

Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of nearly 22 million people and counted among the world’s largest cities, grapples with a dire water crisis. A complex web of issues, including geographical challenges, disorderly urban expansion, and ageing infrastructure prone to leaks, is exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

Years of deficient rainfall, extended droughts, and rising temperatures have exacerbated the strain on an already overburdened water system, prompting authorities to impose substantial limitations on water extraction from reservoirs.

“Several neighbourhoods have suffered from a lack of water for weeks, and there are still four months left for the rains to start,” Christian Dominguez Sarmiento, an atmospheric scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) told CNN.

The city’s vulnerability is deeply rooted in its historical development. Constructed on a high-altitude former lakebed, Mexico City (elevation: approximately 7,300 ft) faces ongoing challenges such as subsidence due to its clay-rich soil, seismic vulnerabilities, and heightened susceptibility to climate change. Urban expansion has transformed its natural landscape, replacing wetlands and rivers with concrete and asphalt, exacerbating seasonal extremes of flooding and drought.

Mexico City relies heavily on its overexploited aquifer, which provides roughly 60% of its water but also contributes to the city’s alarming subsidence rate of 20 inches annually. This overreliance, combined with urban expansion that replaced natural landscapes with concrete and asphalt, exacerbates seasonal extremes of flooding and drought.

A February report reveals that nearly 90% of the city faces severe drought conditions, reflecting the broader situation where 60% of the nation experiences moderate to exceptional drought. This vulnerability is amplified by Mexico’s sensitivity to natural climate fluctuations. La Nina events exacerbate droughts, while El Nino disrupts regular rainy seasons, leaving the city’s water resources constantly under pressure.

The impending water crisis fuels concerns regarding a potential “day zero” scenario. This critical juncture would signify the Cutzamala system’s critically low water levels, rendering it incapable of meeting the city’s essential water needs.

 

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