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El Maíz mas Pequño Project Trying to Save San Miguel’s Water Supplies




By Karla Ortiz

For years, citizens, businessmen, and the entire community have been warned about the risks involved in the unleashed growth our city has been experiencing, especially regarding risks related to rain and water. Yet San Miguel has received various international awards and designations that have brought more and more people here to visit or to live, and the resulting temptations they offer—tax and tourism income and an increase in the city’s status—are hard for city officials, businesspeople, and developers to resist.

But a question often glossed over, says the director of the El Maíz mas Pequeño NGO, is how the city will support all that development with basic needs like clean, potable water.

“They occupy land—they build houses, hotels, apartments, shops, and restaurants,” Henry Miller said. “They bathe, do dirty dishes, etc. And where does all that water come from—from the Támbula-Picachos basin, one of the most important at the national level.”

El Maíz más Pequeño (The Smallest Corn), along with other ecological organizations, has begun working on rehabilitating the overworked basin, which crosses through San Miguel and is a water source.

Neither area residents nor the government has paid enough attention to the way the city is being developed to take into account the impact on the basin—attention that is sorely needed, Miller says.

Now that is changing, however. The flooding problem has never been addressed at the root, but now thanks to Cuencas, Gente, Agua y Cambio Climático (Watersheds, People, Water and Climate Change), a project at El Maíz más Pequeño, an effort is being made to capture the power of business and municipalities, in joint participation with residents, to address the issue. A main objective is to involve all possible parties.

The project kicked off last October and has featured talks, workshops, and demonstrations of what could be done to improve the situation. In January, the first rehabilitation work began on drainage leading toward San Miguel, with support from the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation, which has allowed the project to do research and begin preliminary construction to stabilize the basin’s soil.

“We are not only looking to do rehabilitation work, we are trying to link this vision of soil rehabilitation with action by the municipality, involving the Municipal Risk Atlas [a government document created for the municipality by the Secretaría de Desarrollo Agrario Territorial y Urbano (Secretary of Agricultural and Urban Development) that can be found online], the municipal Civil Protection department, and the contingency plan for the 2019 rainy season,” Miller said.

“In Doña Juana, we are demonstrating exactly what needs to be done to rehabilitate aquifer recharge zones. The people of the community are helping us, participating in the construction, while children in the community are also receiving information about what we are doing,” he added.

Residents can visit the site to see what is being done, get a concise explanation of the project, and learn how to help by scheduling a visit with Henry Miller at


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