No Joke: Mexico City’s Water Crisis

-Written by Vinny Guarino

I understand we have a shocking, fascinating, and unpredictable president in office right now, and I understand he does things that are newsworthy everyday. But do we really need to spend all 24 hours of the news cycle talking about him? There are plenty of other pressing issues that are begging to be discussed on a national level.

One such issue is the fact that Mexico City is sinking at a rate between 7–9 inches per year. Let’s call that a free fall. According to The New York Times report on February 19, climate change has accelerated the structural collapse of the capital.

In the NYT cover story, “Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis,” Michael Kimmelman writes, “More heat and drought mean more evaporation and yet more demand for water, adding pressure to tap distant reservoirs at staggering costs or further drain underground aquifers and hasten the city’s collapse.”

There is limited water available. Families wait for water delivery trucks when their tap is not usable. Estimates for water deliveries are typically between three to 30 days. In Kimmelman’s words, these truck deliveries can “make the cable guy look punctual.”

Also, the constant drilling for water has also made the ground underneath their homes, schools, and businesses physically crack and crumble beneath them. In the neighborhood of Itztapalapa, where approximately 2 million folks reside — 15 elementary schools have caved in.

Many of you reading this may sympathize with the residents of Mexico City but also wonder why and how this should be an issue worthy of discussion in the United States.

Well, we could be seeing a HUGE influx of immigrants from our southern neighbors in the future if they cannot gain reliable access to water.

According the the NYT story, “One study predicts that 10 percent of Mexicans ages 15–65 could eventually try to emigrate north as a result of rising temperatures, drought and floods, potentially scattering millions of people and heightening already extreme political tensions over immigration.”

Forget about the cause of all of these problems for a second. No matter what the root of the issue is — there are millions of people in Mexico City and if they don’t have access to water, they will migrate to a place that has it so they can survive. If this happens, the U.S and other nearby nations must be prepared with a plan of how to handle this possible mass migration.

Unfortunately right now, we can’t seem to form a coherent discussion about anything related to Mexico that does not have to do with building a wall and making the Mexican government pay for it. We need to start having serious discussions about the fate of the people of Mexico City and how their water crisis affects us at home.

No joke.