Environmental watchdog Greenpeace denounced on World Water Day the pollution of rivers and other surface waters in Mexico and asked the government to establish a policy of zero dumping of toxic substances by 2020.
A group of activists on Thursday displayed at Juanacatlan Falls, in the western state of Jalisco, banners with the message “Mexican rivers, toxic rivers,” on grounds that more than 70 percent of the nation’s surface waters are highly contaminated.
Greenpeace activists paddled kayaks to Juanacatlan Falls on the Santiago River, protected by special overalls and wearing masks to keep from inhaling toxic gases in waters reputed for their pollution.
Greenpeace Mexico said in a communique that “dirty industries are among the main sources of river pollution in Mexico and the world.”
Measured in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), one of the indicators of quality established by Mexico’s National Water Commission, or Conagua, industrial dumping generated 340 percent more contamination than municipal sewage.
“Water pollution directly harms communities living near lakes, rivers and tributaries because it damages health and infects food sources,” the campaign director for Greenpeace Mexico, Gustavo Ampugnani, said.
The group demanded that the government establish a policy of clean rivers by 2020 that includes the elimination of toxic dumping, greater control of industrial waste, and sanctions imposed for damage caused by pollution, among other measures.
In Jalisco more than 30 civil organizations announced Thursday the creation of the Broad Front in Defense of Water, to demand public, community and sustainable management of this resource.
In a communique they asked for the Santiago River to be cleaned up and that urgent care be provided for affected populations, as well as equitable access to water and health services. They also demanded that the privatization of water services be abolished.
Meanwhile, the head of Conagua, Jose Luis Luege, delivered Thursday the specific programs for the country’s 13 water regions, through which the government hopes to fulfill its commitment to administer the water supply in a sustainable way.
According to Conagua figures, national demand for water amounts to some 78.4 million cubic meters a year. To meet the demand, a sustainable volume of 66.9 billion cubic meters is taken from surface and underground sources, while approximately 11.5 billion cubic meters are obtained from non-sustainable sources such as over-exploited aquifers.