Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mexico's worst drought in years

DRY STATE A farmer rode past a carcass in Tabasco State, which has lost about 7,000 animals.

The rainy season typically begins here in June. Rain falls almost daily in most of the country, irrigating the spring planting and filling reservoirs before the dry months. But this year, the first three months of the rainy season were dry. Officials warned that the reservoirs were falling to dangerously low levels.

The [Mexico] city government heavily subsidizes the cost of water, and Ramón Aguirre, the official in charge of the water supply, said last month that he would lobby the city assembly to drop the subsidy for large consumers. Households pay only 15 percent of what it costs to supply their water.

On the wealthy west side of Mexico City, green lawns and shiny cars are evidence of how much water households use. A study by the National Polytechnic Institute estimated that the city’s wealthy households consumed four to fives times as much water as poor households on the city’s east side. In many poor neighborhoods, the water supply has been cut off frequently, and many people start lining up at 4 a.m. to ask for water trucks to fill tanks in their houses.

The Cutzamala reservoir system was depleted this spring.

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