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Dams, taps running dry in northern Mexico amid historic water shortages -Breaking


© Reuters. As more than 50% of Mexico is in severe drought, people fill water containers at a public water distribution. This was held in Escobedo (Mexico), April 21-22, 2022. Picture taken April 21, 2022. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril


By Laura Gottesdiener

MONTERREY (Reuters) – Maria Luisa Robles is a worker at a convenience store in Monterrey. Her neighbor, who has dementia, cannot hear her so she asked: Are you out of water?

Her taps had stopped working a week ago. The water supply to this neighborhood in Sierra Ventana was cut off by a severe shortage, which has engulfed the largest industrial center of Mexico for over a week.

Robles (60) said that “we’re all struggling due to there being no running water.”

Robles, along with her neighbours, have taken to the top of a local municipal water tank to fill up jugs. They then lug them back home to clean, wash, drink and cook.

According to CONAGUA (the federal water commission), more than 50% of Mexico currently faces severe to moderate drought. This is in the midst extreme heat scientists attribute to climate change.

The drought, years of below-average rainfall, and the city’s sprawling metro area Monterrey have caused water shortages throughout the entire region.

Samuel Garcia, Nuevo Leon Governor said that “We are in an extreme climate crises.” He spoke at a press conference last week. “Today we are all experiencing it and suffering.”

In June, the city began to limit water access to 6 hours per day. This forced schools to alter their classes and caused panic buying.

There are rising protests against the soda and beer industry, which have been allowed to continue to extract water despite residents going without.

According to the state government, it’s conserving water through repairing leaks in pipes and installing pressure valves. It is also cracking down against farms and companies that are stealing water from rivers and clandestine wells.

As the summer heats up, it is likely that the crisis will not end. This is why it’s hoped summer will bring more rain to the arid climate.

According to Juan Ignacio Barragan, the head of water and sewage agency Juan Ignacio Barragan, the two main dams which supply the metro area (Cerro Prieto & La Boca) could have been empty by Tuesday morning. El Cuchillo has a capacity to hold 45%.

Barragan confirmed that water is not flowing in certain areas during last week’s news conference.

Sierra Ventana is the one Robles shares her home with with her grandmother, two of her siblings who have disabilities and a niece that has a motor impairment.

Their care requires a lot water. Robles must walk back and forth from the tank multiple times per day in temperatures approaching 40° Celsius (104 F). He is often accompanied by other residents who haul buckets, or push baby strollers with jugs.

Last week, she was finishing up her last journey when she thought of her hard-of hearing neighbor.

“What other things can we do?” Before heading back to the tank, she inquired. We need water for life.