Conagua chief: Water availability down to 4,300m3 per person

- Thursday, May 21, 2009

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Water availability in Mexico has fallen from 18,000m3 per person to 4,300m3 in the last 55 years, according to a presentation given by the head of the country's national water commission Conagua, José Luis Luege.

Luege said Mexico is now one of the countries in the world with the lowest availability of water, Conagua reported in a statement.

"The situation has become complicated in recent years so what's needed is more efficient use of water on a large scale and timely payment for the resource, as well as treatment of wastewater and its reuse to maintain the feasibility and sustainable development of the country," said the Conagua official, who was speaking at a meeting with mining chamber Camimex's board.

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Luege said 104 of Mexico's 653 aquifers are being over-exploited and another 69 are close to being over-exploited. In the same 55 years, the country's population has risen from 25.8mn to just over 103mn, he noted.

In order to tackle the problem, the national water program (PNH), covering the years 2007-12, is promoting steps to ensure the sustainable management of water basins and aquifers, and improvements in the productive use of water for irrigation, as well as better access to and quality of drinking water, drainage and sanitation, among others.

PNH goals for the six-year term of President Felipe Calderón, who is due to step down in 2012, include modernizing irrigation methods for 1.2Mha of farmland, increasing the potable water coverage rate to 95% from 89.6%, drainage services to 88% from 86% and wastewater treatment to 60% from 36% when Calderón took office in 2006.

The so-called Water Agenda 2030, meanwhile, involves solving pollution problems in rivers and basins and flood controls, among other objectives.

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