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Eco-Priest Confronts Water Crisis in Mexico

Water is a precious resource in the sun-baked farmlands of Guanajuato State in Central Mexico. Large-scale farming and the illegal drilling of wells have seen water levels depleted to crisis point.

Many local people are being poisoned by the water they drink because it comes from the aquifer – a water source deep beneath the earth that is thousands of years old and polluted with fluoride and arsenic. 

Leaders like the Catholic priest Juan Carlos Zesati, with the aid of numerous citizen groups, like Caminos de Agua, are helping local people to build cisterns to catch precious rainwater that they hope can replace the unsafe water from the aquifer. Zesati arrived in 2012 and has made it his mission to get to the heart of a water crisis affecting residents in dozens of villages scattered throughout this arid region. In his sermons he frequently cites Pope Francis. He urges people to honor the environment, to respect limited water supplies and to develop sustainable practices.

In the towns and villages, an activist theater group has started to educate by performing plays that depict a Water War between the people and the powers of industry and government.

Meanwhile, on his ranch not far from San Miguel de Allende, a man named Alvaro Nieto is introducing groundbreaking methods of water conservation as well as new farming techniques that he hopes will spread throughout the region and help to combat the increasingly harsh effects of climate change. The question is, will these grassroots efforts be enough to avoid catastrophe as temperatures rise along with the demand for fresh produce from the supermarkets across the border?

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supermarkets across the border?

Resources

Prosperous Mexican Farms Suck Up Water, Leaving Villages High and Dry The New York Times

Caminos de Agua An organization dedicated to implementing practical and sustainable solutions to counter water issues in Mexico.

What happens to the U.S. Midwest when the water's gone? National Geographic

Blog of Father Juan Carlos Zesati

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment and human ecology

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