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New project to Restore and Conserve Watersheds in San Miguel

Mural en CECyTEG por Boomzer

Mural en Bachillerato SABES por Merle Herrera

Mural en Bachillerato SABES por Deleith

Merle Herrera


By Karla Ortiz and Tania Noriz

Cuencas, Gente, Agua y Cambio Climático is a project that was created by El Maíz mas Pequeño civil association in collaboration with the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation and the Gestión Integral de Cuencas of the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. Project managers plan to develop it over three years. The main objective is to strategize intervention to avoid the deterioration of the Támbula-Picachos and Laja River watersheds because these sub-basins are in danger due to aquifer overexploitation and deforestation, gravel extraction, constructions, and overgrazing, according to Henry Miller, representative of El Maíz más Pequeño and project coordinator.

The organization’s plan of action includes increasing social participation of the ejidatarios (shareholders of common land) and others who own land near the watersheds, rehabilitation in the high areas of these lands, restoration of the original water passage, and evaluation and monitoring of the areas affected by the overflow to give them appropriate management.

Currently, the project seeks to join efforts with existing groups that have other initiatives on water issues to organize a watershed system and regulate the behavior of water when it begins to drain. “A solution is the creation of pastures. In that way, the water begins to drain slowly as it seeps into the ground. The other would be to intervene on the lands with engineering to conserve the natural passage of the water,” said Miller.

Due to the construction of buildings, mainly housing, in the high areas of the city, water runoff has become faster and, as there is no land to leach, it ends up in streams in the center area that could cause a flood.

One of the goals of the project is the creation of signs that transmit the message about the importance of watershed conservation. To do that, the association took advantage of the activities carried out during the Peace Week in September. Together with an initiative by the local Education Department, they developed the proposal to create murals to promote the conservation of the watersheds.

Thus, six grafiteros (urban aratists) attended the talks on how to rehabilitate a watershed, how to apply good practices for sustainable housing, water collection, dry baths, biofilters, stoves, compost, and more that were presented at the Centro de Capacitación in the la Joya de Barreta community. They approached Miller to collaborate on a proposal.

The young people found that through murals they could convey the message to a wider population. They thought that there were people living in different communities in the schools, “so it occurred to us that we could carry our message to about 100 teenagers residing in at least fifteen different communities,” Miller explained.

In different schools in the city and rural communities, they painted 16 murals which can be seen in the CECyTEG, located in the Lomas de San Miguel neighborhood. In them, the urban artists worked to express their own ideas about watersheds with a concrete message: “Peace is a manifestation of well-being on the earth, and if there is no environmental health on the earth—whether natural resources and environmental goods are scarce or don’t exist—peace is put at risk. There has to be a symmetrical reciprocity between what is being extracted from the earth in terms of natural resources and what is being returned. We have the ability to choose a different way of managing the territory, changing bad practices to good practices and ensuring that future generations have access to what they need to give a healthy continuity to the cycle of life,” Miller said.

With this actions, the Cuencas, Gente, Agua y Cambio Climático project wants to create awareness so that the young people of this generation can become transmitters of information and protagonists of actions toward development of adaptive capacities to climate change.

“When we put young people at the center of the conversation, we are putting them at the center of our future. If we focus on kids, we are really building a better future,” concluded Henry Miller.


The Centro de Capacitación de Joya de la Barreta (Training Center) was created by members of the community and the Master’s Degree program in Integral Watershed Management of the Autonomous University of Querétaro (UAQ) for training on the watershed system: what it is, what can be done, and what alternatives exist to promote living in a sustainable space.


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