Municipal govts lack funds to maintain wastewater treatment plants - Conagua

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Municipal wastewater treatment plants in Mexico are lying inactive due to a lack of resources to maintain them, national water authority Conagua's coordinator of special projects in the Mexico valley, José Miguel Guevara, told BNamericas.

"Municipal governments launch themselves into permanent financial commitments when they decide to build a wastewater treatment plant, and the financial strength of local government is often not sufficient to sustain the plant," said Guevara.

Municipal governments are required by law to build wastewater treatment plants to cater for local needs. However, many fall in to disrepair following construction due to a lack of funding for upkeep.

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"We have seen better results with community treatment plants that are shared between various municipalities," the official said.

Overall wastewater treatment levels have increased under the government of President Felipe Calderón, which began in 2006, when around 30% of wastewater was being treated.

"We are going to finish up in July with treatment levels of around 60% within the valley of Mexico," said Guevara.

The high operational costs of wastewater treatment plants is contemplated in Conagua's water sustainability program for the Mexico valley as "the smaller the plant, the higher the operating costs," according to the official.

Conagua has focused on the construction of large-scale treatment plants such as the US$710mn Atotonilco plant in Hidalgo and the capital's upcoming El Caracol plant, estimated at US$205mn.