Protests erupt as Mexico City could run out of water this summer

It has been far too dry for far too long in Mexico as a combination of drying reservoirs and increasing population has caused concerns of a water crisis. 

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, most of Mexico, including areas around and to the north of Mexico City, are in a long-term drought. 

The result is that residents in Mexico City have taken to the streets, calling for action. In late January, Reuters reported that residents forced open the gates of Mexico’s National Water Commission, damaging property. 

Their actions came after severe water restrictions were placed on Mexico City residents. Maribel Gutierrez told Reuters that she had gone over a month without water at her residence prior to the massive protest. 

“I think they should be empathetic,” Gutierrez told Reuters of government officials. “We understand there was a serious water problem, but they must understand that water is vital for everyone.”

Local media reports that reservoirs could completely be out of water by late August if conditions don’t improve. 

The ongoing water crisis is nothing new for residents in and around Mexico City, and climate change and a growing population have combined to make water a scarce commodity. 

Elizabeth Carter, an assistant professor of civil engineering and earth sciences at Syracuse University, wrote about this issue in 2022. While she said climate change has played a role, politics has also exacerbated the crisis. 

“U.S. policy and infrastructure have played a major role in propagating this crisis,” she said. 

One reason she notes is that the U.S engineering projects in rivers that feed many of Mexico’s northern freshwater sources run dry before reaching Mexico. She cites the Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, and the Central Arizona Project (Colorado River) as examples.