The people in Iztapalapa, Mexico, just don’t trust their tap water. Although many believe that the quality has improved, residents of this district outside of Mexico City remain loyal to bottled water. Tap water discussions are commonplace here as well as other communities throughout the country with many discussing the smells, colors, sand or mud content as well as possible insect life.
According to a study by the Inter American Development Bank, Mexicans used close to 127 gallons of bottled water per person a year. This is more than four times the bottled water consumption in the U.S.
According to Federico Basañes, the division chief for water and sanitation at the development bank, “People are using this water for cooking, for bathing their babies.” He continued to discuss the cost this habit has on many poor families in the area. The development bank estimates that families may spend as much as 10 percent of their income on water. “Can you imagine a poor family paying their water bills – in some cases a fairly steep amount – and they are buying water on the side because they don’t trust the water they are getting?”
Jesús Rebollo, a community activist in Iztapalapa, states, “After having seen yellow water, brown water, people just don’t want to take the risk. It has stuck, the problem of the lack of confidence.” He also expressed his own distrust of the city’s aging pipes stating, “Once it gets into the pipes, you lose all the effort that was put into it.”
Rocío Pérez González, a resident of Iztapalapa and a bottled water consumer, ran the water from her tap to show the improvements the area has made, yet still continued to express her distrust of the now clear water from the faucet. “It’s clean now, but years ago it came out dirty. It looked like chocolate. So I got used to using the refill jug. Everybody here got used to buying water. We have had that habit for 15 years.”