• David G Arvidsson

The Mexican Water War, not Drug War


Mexico City was founded in the 14th century by the Aztecs who were a highly developed society and managed to grow Mexico City to a population of almost 300,000 people before the conquest of the Spaniard in the 16th century.

Mexico City is often refereed to as the “impossible city” due to the location where it was constructed. The story behind why the Aztecs decided to base the city one a network of lakes instead of solid soil, has to do with their religious believes. The story dates back to the 1325 a.d. when the Aztecs were led to the island by their main god, Hutzilopochtli. According to the ancient story, the god indicated that their new home would be located where they found an eagle perched on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak.

If the Aztecs would have known the complications this would create to the modern residents of Mexico City they probably would have thought twice before building the city on artificial islands made by clay and wooden poles.

Today, Mexico City is experiencing the downside of constructing a city above a network of lakes. The city’s foundation is a combination of clay and volcanic soil, which means that one part is more resistant to aquifers being depleted and as a result parts of the city are sinking.

mexico city_16x9

By exploiting of the lakes, many parts of Mexico City are sinking a few centimeters and sometimes even meters, as you can tell in the picture. The majority of the drinking water is recovered from the aquifers located below the city, the combination of overpopulation and poor management of the water sources has lead to the water scarcity that Mexico City is experiencing today.

Managing wastewater and creating sustainable water storage 

What is most frustrating about the lack of water the inhabitants of the third largest city in the world are experiencing , is that this should not even be a problem and could actually be solved. Instead of extracting water from the aquifers located below the city, they could collect and store rainwater, in order to supply the population with clean water. Another solution is managing wastewater more efficient, but without proper management and sewer system they will never be able to satisfy the need of millions of people. And still keep the city afloat.

“Water could be a pathway  to peace or a reason for conflict”

Jan Eliasson, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, described the water scarcity situation in the world as a major reason for creating peace and dignity, if people learn to share and gain confidence in one another. But it could also create a major conflict and rip even bigger scars in an already worn country.

Drug wars, natural disasters and corruption are all matters that haunt this beautiful country, and gain most of the medial attention. But the most urgent issue, is solving the most basic and most vital need in the world, the access to a safe, clean and sustainable water source.