Water Security Coalition Reports on Its Progress
By Paco Guajardo
It has been known for years that the water in San Miguel de Allende has been deteriorating in both quantity and quality. Because of this, 14 San Miguel-based NGOs, known collectively as the Agua Vida coalition, have come together to work with the municipal government on regional water issues. On March 21, the coalition members and representatives from the municipal government signed an agreement to work on a plan for the future of water in San Miguel, and we jointly agreed to report on the progress of this work to the public by June 5.
Coalition members have been meeting weekly since the original agreement was signed, and through the coordination of the Department of Environment and Sustainability, there have been several meetings between the coalition and the municipal administration. Together, the 13 NGOs are working on the development of a plan with the Department of Environment and Sustainability and SAPASMA.
At the most recent meeting, held at the offices of SAPASMA, the group began working on developing a “Water Fund.” The fund—initially voluntary—would help channel much-needed resources to projects focusing on water quality and scarcity issues throughout the municipality. The group agreed to look to the experiences in Saltillo, a successful model of payments for ecosystems services, to help define the parameters of a local water fund.
Citing their large administrative infrastructure, SAPASMA offered to administer the water fund and coordinate joint activities with the coalition in the future. SAPASMA also agreed prioritize meeting water needs in the 10 percent of the municipal population that currently has no SAPASMA services. Finally, SAPASMA was invited to visit installations at several coalition members’ projects, including those of Caminos de Agua, El Maíz Más Pequeño, and Casita Linda.
The coalition members were also asked by to submit recommendations for the new municipal building code. The coalition’s recommendations covered two main proposals:
•All new development projects in the municipality, whether commercial or residential, would need to present a detailed rainwater harvesting plan. This plan would have to be authorized by the relevant municipal department. New construction would only be allowed if plans include an approved plan to collect rainwater. Said plans would need to include implementation of best practices (to be defined) for both active and passive rainwater collection systems and would need to include the capture, distribution, storage, filtration, and treatment of rainwater.
•For every square meter of roof surface in new residential and commercial developments, there would need to be a minimum of 0.4 cubic meters of active rainwater storage, i.e., rainwater that stored in either above-ground or underground cisterns.
The recommendations were delivered to and signed by the office of the Municipal President, Luis Alberto Villarreal; the Department of Environment and Sustainability; SAPASMA; and the Municipal Institute of Planning, Innovation and Supervision of the 2040 Plan (IMPLAN).
If these recommendations are approved by the municipality, they will be the first municipal construction codes in the country to require rainwater harvesting. The coalition is eagerly awaiting the municipal government’s response to its proposals.