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Yucatan, between two unequal realities: water abounds, but clean water does not reach all communities

- March 22, 2021

Most of the population of Mérida has a constant water supply: they go to the bathroom and there is water, open the tap and water comes out to wash the dishes or their clothes, they do not have to wait for it to rain, or create mechanisms to supply water. water to the inhabitants.

Some communities in the interior of the state live a different reality, which seems alien to the inhabitants of the metropolitan city: the supply of drinking water is only one hour a day, their right to access to water is not guaranteed.

For years it has been promoted that Yucatan is a place with abundant water, which seems unlimited, which has allowed attracting large investments and companies to this area of ​​the country due to the wealth of this liquid. According to the 2020 Population and Housing Census of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), in Yucatán, 78 percent of the population has piped water, however, its quality is questionable, said Inés Cortés Campos, Researcher at the Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (Ciesas).

Although there is no water shortage problem in the state, the concern is the quality. The real problem is its treatment: drinking water for daily consumption; water that is clean, that can be drunk, that does not represent a risk of contaminants.

The water purification service is something that practically only exists in Merida, said the researcher. Outside of the Yucatecan capital, there are no water purification plants; There are only underground water pumping systems and storage in tanks, tanks, or cisterns, where their only form of treatment is chlorine tablets.

Poblaciones de Yucatán envenenadas por la contaminación del agua - El  Diario de Yucatán

The further the town is from the municipal seat, said the social anthropologist, the picture becomes more complicated; They only have one well, where they pump the water into an elevated tank, and it is redistributed to homes.

However, due to the poverty conditions of these localities, in order not to increase the cost of electricity used when pumping water to homes, the local authorities determine that the pump be turned on for one or two hours a day.

“It is very unfortunate that we continue to have this situation in Mexico in the 21st century,” he said.

He said that at least in the communities of the municipalities of Tizimín, Chemax, Temozón, Valladolid live with this type of system, although he indicated that the situation is general throughout the state.

As soon as the system is turned on, people carry the drums, buckets, and other water because it is all the water they will have throughout the day. “There is not a shortage of water as such, what there is a constant lack of drinking water,” he said.

In addition, normally a person in charge of carrying out this pumping work is appointed, known as the water treasurer, who is in charge of charging the families of the houses to supply the service, but many times he forgets to do the work, You do not put the chlorine pill, you get up late, or you have problems with someone and you do not get the water.

In other words, declared Inés Cortés, that the supply of drinking water is also subject to these social conflicts.

Regarding the treatment, the specialist indicated that in the best of cases the bacteria that contain the water that is extracted have the chlorine pill, however, in the East, where there is a lot of livestock and agriculture, the toxic pesticides seep into the groundwater table, without any type of treatment, and reach the elevated tank that supplies the households that use that water to bathe, wash their dishes, their hands, or sometimes to drink.

For Cortés Campos, this situation seems to show that there are two realities that exist in the state, but only what happens in Mérida matters: the supply of drinking water in rural communities is not a priority for any government, but the problem is real and many people live under these conditions.

It is contradictory, as he reflected, that governments presume Yucatán as an excellent place to visit, to live and that has won numerous awards when it suffers from these realities.

“Yucatan and Mérida are quiet places to live, but only for a certain social sector, those who have greater purchasing power, that is the reality in terms of health, access to water, jobs,” he stated.

In general, not only the state, but the country, remains in debt to very large rural Mexico, he added.

What do you need?

In the opinion of Cortés Campos, to reverse this scenario, a serious public policy is urgently needed, independent of electoral and political currents, which lasts each six-year term, focused on sanitation and provision of drinking water to the entire population, as well as actions guided by the scientific sector.

In addition, he said that it is important to erase that image that the state will have water forever, or that it is very clean: that it is a tropical paradise with lots of water.

Source: lajornadamaya.mx

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