Scattered around our apartment our buckets and pails of water. We’ve learned the hard way about the intermittent water shortages afflicting some areas of Mexico City in the past three weeks.
We awoke this morning to find water gone. I went to the gym anyway. Water was still out when I got back. So I spent the next four hours in my sweaty clothes thanking my lucky stars I had no business outside to attend to.
We got water but only because we had to buy it. That is big business in Mexico City. It is common to see water tanker trucks backed up to buildings, selling tankfuls of water. We had to pay 300 pesos, which is $25. Who knows how long it will last.
I don’t know how widespread this outage is -- perhaps just a few blocks around our building. But it could be bigger.
Over Holy Week, 13 entire districts of the city (think millions of people) had water cut off for 55 hours for some sort of maintenance. My Swedish friend had his sister’s family visiting. They arrived from the beach to discover they were crowded in his apartment without water. One day. Two days. It gets unpleasant fast. Think about not being able to flush toilets.
Who knows how regularly this inconvenience will occur. But it’s hard not to see the outages as a sign of things to come. After all, Mexico City faces huge shortages of water in the future as the aquifer is depleted.
Click here for a Public Radio International piece on how some families are turning to “rain-water harvesting” to cope with shortages. Earlier this year, city water officials announced a newfound aquifer about a mile deep that may stave off a crisis, at least in part of the city. Overuse of the existing aquifer is casing Mexico City to sink. Here’s a story I once wrote about buildings that settle and list because of the sinking.