Mexico's water, sanitation utilities lambast budget cuts

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The board of directors of Mexico's national association of water and sanitation utilities (Aneas) met with members of the congressional joint committees on water and sanitation Wednesday in order to discuss their concerns about the cuts to the water sector's budget included in the 2017 federal budget proposal.

The Aneas representatives asked congress to reverse the 72% projected cut to the budget of the country's national water utilities which, according to Ramón Aguirre, Aneas president and head of Mexico City's water authority Sacmex, "is the most severe of all the proposed cuts to any sector included in the federal budget and puts the operation of potable water systems throughout the country at risk."

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Aguirre said that the issue of water should not be last on the country's list of priorities, particularly when facing a situation like that in Mexico where over 14mn people lack access to potable water services, another 56mn only have sporadic access and sewage services are not accessible to 31mn people.

In response, Ignacio Pichardo, president of the joint congressional committee and a member of the PRI party, asked local water utilities to prioritize their needs and "not start new waterworks projects until the ones currently under construction are completed."

The Aneas representatives and the congress members also discussed the potential formulation of a bill to pass a general water law, which some congress members are already working on.

In the case of Mexico City, the 2017 federal budget proposal involves a 70% cut to the budget of local water utility Sacmex, which local authorities say will mean the cancelation of new projects, basic maintenance and rehabilitation works, besides directly impacting water supply services in the capital.