Profit above environmental rationality is “suicidal”
By Patricia Cardona
The second lecture in the Water Dialogues series, presented by the conservation campaign Aguavida SMA, dealt with increased water rates for those with highest consumption and a more equitable distribution of water throughout the region. According to Dr. Javier Castellanos, a member of the National System of Researchers, investors insist on earning profits rather than environmental rationality and this attitude is “suicidal,” especially in times of extreme drought.
The expert warned that even though Guanajuato is in its third year of severe drought the state continues drawing from its 16,000 wells nearly 5 billion cubic meters of water per year for domestic, industrial and agricultural uses. “If we continue with this exploitation, our future looks complicated,” he said.
“This is just the beginning, and we are not paying attention,” he said, “even though our reservoirs are at only 20 or 30 percent of their capacity.” He explained that other parts of the world last year experienced their worst droughts in 50 years.
Dr. Castellanos said that in Mexico we focus on the 30 million acres of agricultural land while few have ground water and the rest is up to the rainy season. With climate change seasonal cycles have become unpredictable, he said. He hypothesized that ground water would be depleted in the next 14 years—as has been predicted if drastic measures are not taken—and we would have to rely on temporary crops, something totally implausible because of the erratic rainy seasons, which would force us to depend on other countries for our food supply.
In a semi-desert area like San Miguel de Allende, where the ability to recharge the aquifer is almost null, immediate action is required to assess how much industry, real estate development and agriculture the region can sustain.
Reforestation is seen as an essential task to prevent the advance of desertification and soil erosion, as long as the trees are native to the area. Dr. Juan B. Morales-Malacara, who also participated in the presentation, explained that nonindigenous trees can harm native species, and certain species produce substances that thwart the growth of native species. The importance of knowing about the ecosystems of the region ensures the survival of local wildlife. Dr. Morales-Malacara explained that animals have to recognize their food sources to continue living.
“Reforestation indirectly helps recharge the aquifer and directly prevents soil erosion. There are ways to recharge the aquifer by identifying basins where water naturally accumulates,” said Morales-Malacara. He said it is not convenient to recharge aquifers arbitrarily because “we must be sure that the water actually falls into the aquifer and does not fall into an underground cave contaminated by housing or industrial projects, or trash deposits.”
The next meeting of the Water Dialogue series will address the issue of management and use of water in urban and rural areas and will take place on Tuesday, July 30 at the University of León, Insurgentes 1 (Plaza Cívica), from 5 to 9pm.
For additional information on water in San Miguel, visit www.aguavidasma.org.