Water Pollution in San Miguel
By Sandra Ríos
Mexico’s hydraulic resources are threatened for a number of reasons, including scarcity, quality, pollution, and treatment. Aquifers, previously recharged by surface water, now are dangerously low and contaminated with naturally occurring minerals. The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) also estimates that over half of all superficial water, which eventually reaches aquifers, is very polluted.
Recently, studies about water quality were made by Dr. Marcos Adrián Ortega Guerrero, geological engineer and Director of the Center for Geo-sciences, UNAM, in the region of Cuenca de la Independencia, known as Cuenca Alta del Río Laja. Fifty-five communities were found to have contaminated wells, and within these, fifteen cases had arsenic levels above the Mexican standard. Facing this situation, CODECIN (Coalition in Defense of Cuenca Independence) fears that more and more people will suffer poor health consequences caused by levels of toxic minerals in the water. High levels of arsenic, which is carcinogenic, and fluoride, which might cause damage to the central nervous system, decrease of IQ, loss of teeth, and osteoporosis, have been found. The affected areas are San Felipe, Dolores Hidalgo, San Diego de la Unión, San Luis de la Paz; Dr. Mora; San José Iturbide, San Miguel Allende, and the municipalities of Leon, Ocampo, and the capital, Guanajuato.
The Observatorio Ciudadano y Saneamiento en San Miguel de Allende del Agua (Citizen Observatory for Water and Sanitation in San Miguel de Allende) encourages monitoring and citizen evaluation, dialogue with the authorities, and attention to concrete and specific problems on the subject of water. It encourages social work in rural communities with tasks such as soil conversion, river rehabilitation, and flora and fauna monitoring, by providing information and alternative technologies. The group has developed educational campaigns and play materials for children and young people of San Miguel and La Cuenca. Through these dynamic games, they learn about the watershed, the water cycle, where the water that we drink comes from, and where it goes.
The Observatory, along with Save the Laja River and the Charco del Ingenio, is involved in a process for attaining a declaration for the volcanoes of Los Picachos as a protected natural area. Among other things, it is a natural water factory and a temperature controller.