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Aguas Negras: Mexico City’s Water Problems

Uncontrolled growth and geological disadvantages have made Mexico City one of the most densely populated and seemingly apocalyptic conurbations in the world. The city faces numerous environmental challenges, in particular its ongoing water dilemma. Problems include regular flooding, as aging infrastructure can no longer cope with wastewater volumes, subsidence caused by aquifer overexploitation, and the disparity between those with access to water and those without.

This essay documents these issues, along with the age-old practice of disgorging Mexico City’s excess rain and sewage water into the neighboring state of Hidalgo through a complex network of tunnels and canals. There, the ‘black waters’ are used to irrigate fields where produce for human and animal consumption is grown and sold back to Mexico City. The increasing contamination of these waters generates numerous health concerns. In response, Mexican authorities are overseeing the construction of new drainage tunnels to alleviate flooding. They also pledged to finish a massive water treatment plant north of the city by 2012, however, construction may now take until late 2015. 

videos


Credits

Janet Jarman Videography, Photography, and Interviews / Filip Lein and Deborah Acosta Editors / Knight Center for International Media Executive Producer

With many thanks to: Jesus Aldana Angeles, Valderiano Cortez, Manuel Ceron Falcon, Isaac Garcia Perez, Dr. Roberto Montoya, Feliza Camacho Ramirez, Raul Tortolero.


Resources

Aguas Negras Knight Center for International Media

Children of the Lagoon - Janet Jarman Nuestra Mirada

Fears That a Lush Land May Lose a Foul Fertilizer The New York Times

Bottled-Water Habit Keeps Tight Grip on Mexicans The New York Times

Waterviews| Water Tops Climate Change as Global Priority Circle of Blue

Human perspectives on the Global Water Crisis Circle of Blue

Aguas Negras Vision Project Multimedia

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