Mundo 29-09-2017

Water crisis in Mexico City

A crisis due to water scarcity affects 1.4 million people in Mexico City, 15% of the inhabitants of the city, 10 days after the devastating earthquake of 7.1 on the Richter scale.

The problem has even resulted in acts of violence on several occasions when armed men stole the tankers that distribute the liquid.

The main scenario of the shortage is the overcrowded poor suburb of Iztapalapa, east of the metropolis, where 900,000 people are without access to potable water, followed by another 300,000 in Tláhuac and Xochimilco (south), which are also areas with scarce resources.

However, there are also 200,000 other areas without water in middle-class areas such as Benito Júarez, Cuauhtémoc, Coyoacán and Tlalpan, located mainly in the south-central zone, the most hit by the earthquake of day 19, of 7.1 degrees on the Richter scale, and on day 7 of 8.2 degrees.

Both phenomena caused a thousand leaks in distribution pipelines and caused cracks in the La Caldera and Tláhuac-Nezahualcóyotl aquifers, which are undergoing intense repairs.

The director of the city's water system, Ramón Aguirre, predicted that the situation will normalize this weekend.

From a few days after the second earthquake, riots began to seize the water tankers that move the water to the most affected areas.

Juan Carlos, driver of one of these trucks, says that most of the kidnappings of the pipes happen in the streets of Iztapalapa.

"They block with sticks, stones, and they do not let the pipe pass." They grab you and they get in. They go up and until you leave them one, "he said.

Other neighbors point out that not infrequently riots arise among groups of people to seize the trucks and sometimes the water thieves threaten the drivers and the neighbors with pistols.

"We are bullied with guns and they force us to take the pipes where they want to. They take over and strip us of the vehicles and force us under threats to take them to certain points to stock up," said a driver.

The most punished neighborhoods in Iztapalapa are Cerro de la Estrella, Santa Martha Acatitla, Oriente Army, Vicente Guerrero Unit, Peñón Viejo, Santa maría Aztahuacán, Santa Cruz Meyehualco and El Salado, among others.

The mayor of Iztapalapa, Dione Anguiano, said that deputies and neighborhood leaders are behind these blockades of streets to divert the trucks, but the National Regeneration Movement (Morena, left) accused Anguiano of making "clientele use of water pipes.”

On Thursday, there was a diversion of a convoy of seven tankers that were heading to neighborhoods of the Santa Catarina sector in Tláhuac, which were forced to unload elsewhere.

Many older people have had to haul bucket water from some areas far from their homes to stock up.

Another problem that has arisen is that the trucks that transfer the water to the districts charge inaccessible numbers for the supply, when it should be free.

"They are profiting from the water, they come to the colonies and they charge us for water," said Margarita Gutiérrez, a resident of the Ortiz Tirado neighborhood in Iztapalapa.

"There are pipes that pass and ask for 500, 600 pesos for a boat, two boats of water," said Claudia Flores, a resident of the colony La Polvorilla, Iztapalapa, according to a Televisa report.

The inhabitants of the area where the water is scarce usually make long lines of up to 8 hours for them to take the turn to receive the water.

The shortage of water is usually an endemic problem in Iztapalapa, but worsened after the recent earthquake that has so far left 345 dead.

ANSA