Inadequate residual handling by Yucatecan companies is polluting the water table

“Agricultural, livestock as well as urban, industrial and service supply related activities alter the water cycle in the Yucatan, prevent its natural renewal and put at risk all components of the hydrological system, with effects on natural resources, often irreversible”, say specialists.

Civil engineer Rodrigo López Ávila, with a master’s degree in Urban Sanitation, agrees with these assessments and gives a broader view of this situation.

To his saying, the underground water of the Peninsula is highly contaminated. Universities and academics have detected and demonstrated this problem for years, mainly during the 90’s. But the authorities have not given the proper attention to this critical situation.

The expert stated that the government did not dare to touch the interests of the main polluters: Corporations.

“For almost 30 years, companies have been admitted to this region, where water is abundant, and the non-compliance with the federal wastewater discharge regulations has been allowed ever since. Companies use water, but they return it to the environment totally polluted, and the authorities have allowed this situation in order to attract capital and investment, but at the expense of the natural resources that belong to the people,” declared López Ávila.

“Some companies have water treatment plants, but for a unit to work properly it must be given constant maintenance. After six months the plant is abandoned and the water passes through it, but the plant is no longer working. These companies must allocate a percentage of their profits to the operation and maintenance of their waste water treatment plants,” the specialist added.

The expert stressed that this problem occurs in the industries that consume more water: livestock, agriculture, food and tourism.

Then, he said that the production of all these industries has grown in recent years to meet the demands of regional, national and international markets. “More and more firms are coming to the Yucatan, and the government does not oblige them to comply with the regulations, with the excuse of generating investment and jobs”, he stated.

“Although these compaies have money, nobody supervises them, unlike other countries in the world where they are responsible for taking care of the water and not only pay attention to their profits”, he continued.

“In agriculture, the problem is the misuse of pesticides, fertilizers and agrochemicals, all these bad practices are killing the ecosystem and contaminating the water table. Tourism also pollutes, because of the large number of people who visit the state in high season, there is more use of wastewater and there is no infrastructure to treat it”, López Ávila emphasized.

“Restaurants do not take care of their wastewater either. They do not have, for the most part, treatment water plants, they use septic tanks, so these businesses use tankers to transport their waste when their pits are filled. This is how little by little, we have polluted the freshwater reserves, but the clean water that filters out of the rain is so much that it is difficult to contaminate all the water,” said the expert.

“Highly contaminated groundwater reaches the sea, damaging the reefs as well as the wildlife. Several cenotes are polluted too, certain species of flora and fauna have been destroyed, and the authorities are not doing much about it”, he pointed out.

“If we don’t act now, the water provided by the Japay will also be affected in a matter of years”, he warned.

Engineer Lopez Avila exhorted the authorities to act now, “it is not an excuse to contaminate a natural resource because companies provide investment and economic growth to the state.”

Miguel Viena, representative of the Union of Collectors of the State of Yucatan, spoke about pollution too. He said that in restaurants, hotels and other businesses, tanker trucks are used to transport the waste from their septic tanks and there is no place to deposit them, this highly polluted water ends up going back into the water table.

“In a few years from now, the water will no longer be potable”, he warned.

Viena concluded saying that, there is a lack of culture in the citizenship to keep the septic tanks of their homes in good condition, and since we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of septic tanks all over the city of Mérida, the sewage is filtering into the subsoil and then reaching the water table.

TYT Newsroom with information from