In the Spanish-speaking world there is an old popular saying: A glass of water cannot be denied to anyone.
- Who would have such a cold heart today to deny someone this vital liquid?
- Sadly, everyone.
- To whom are we denying a glass of water?
- To our children, grandchildren… every day that passes is one glass less for them.
Although it may sound alarmist and tabloid, the trend that the 20th century left us is that there is less and less water. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) the availability of this vital liquid in Mexico has decreased considerably: from 31 thousand m³ in 1910 to 3,586 m³ in 2019 per person per year.
According to INEGI, the Valley of Mexico has the lowest annual availability of water, barely 144 m3/inhabitant, while in the southern border area the average exceeds 18,000 m3/inhabitant.
Metals For Humanity (M4H), through the Pure Silver Initiative, has verified that in various public schools in Mexico City water access is a recurring problem, that must be addressed urgently.
M4H found that schools in the district of Xochimilco in Mexico City, on average, have one hand-washing sink for every 64 students, while in the district of Iztapalapa, on average, there is one sink for every 59 students. The lack of water in schools has even caused the suspension of classes, as explained by the Director of a primary school:
“It is very complicated, I have looked for many means to receive the resource without fail. I should not have to be calling City Hall every time it is needed, they should know that such schools require water. Sometimes we suspend activities because there is no service.”
To mitigate the water challenges and the lack of resources in schools, teachers and parents purchase water pipes to tackle the shortage and prevent hundreds of people from risking their health daily.
The aforementioned problem is multiplied in homes and workplaces located in the most critical areas of the capital. Water consumption per inhabitant is a problem that could be addressed with better practices, with innovation and public policies, though, human consumption is not the primary use of water.
According to the National Water Commission, 76.6% of water is used for agricultural activities, 14.5% for public utility, 4.9% for electricity generation and 4% by industry (CONAGUA) 2018.
The Mexican Institute of Water Technology (IMTA) estimates that the volume of water granted at the national level for the mining sector is around 472.53 hm³, which represents 7.3% of the total national volume granted for industrial use, which amounts to 6 thousand 494.45 hm³.
Drinking water or for personal hygiene represents only four percent of people's water consumption. The products and services we commonly use account for the additional 96%.
The National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) published a list of products that we consume on a daily basis and an average of litres of water required for their production.
For example, it takes 2,400 litres of water to produce a hamburger, an apple has 70 litres of embedded water, a serving of lettuce 23, a tomato 13, a sheet of paper 10, a cell phone 23,200 litres, a kilo of pork 5,900 litres, and as a final example we can point to an automobile which requires 246,052 litres of water for its production.
It has taken human beings almost 50 years to understand that evolution and good environmental and sustainable practices can go hand in hand, if we have the will, the technology and the necessary resources to prevent the degradation of bodies of water around the world.
Although governments have the power to meet the needs of society, there are organizations that work in coordination with different authorities to offer alternatives that further strengthen sustainable development.
Paul Klein, President of the Impakt Foundation for Social Change, explains in his book “Change for Good” how companies can chart a path to corporate success while genuinely addressing social needs, moving beyond "CSR Light."
Raising awareness from families to schools to organizations will put us in the best path to never deny a glass of water to anyone.