State-owned Mexican power company LFC has cut off electricity to 10 of 109 water wells supplying the Ecatepec municipality of Mexico state, on the northern outskirts of Mexico City, newspaper La Jornada reported.
The power cuts to the wells were carried out in response to the fact that the municipality and the Ecatepec water utility Sapase owe the company more than 619mn pesos (US$56.6mn) in unpaid electricity bills.
A total 500,000 people in around 100 neighborhoods of the area are without water as a result.
The municipal authorities owe 394mn pesos to the power company, while Sapase has failed to pay 225mn pesos, according to the head of debt collection at LFC, Elías Hurtado.
As no agreement has been reached with the two organizations to cover the debts, electricity to further wells could be cut off in the near future, added the official.
The electricity cuts are arbitrary and are in contempt of a provisional suspension order granted by the courts as legal proceedings are currently underway, Ecatepec mayor José Luis Flores said. He added that the municipal government pays 2mn pesos per month for electricity.
In May 2005, LFC also cut electricity supplies to 10 wells in the municipality because of a 377mn-peso debt. The two parties eventually signed an agreement under which the authorities would pay a monthly quota to reduce the debt, but this was not fulfilled, according to the daily.