Home Headlines Is Cozumel at risk of “extreme water poverty”?

Is Cozumel at risk of “extreme water poverty”?

by Yucatan Times
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Alert due to highly polluted groundwater tables.

Due to the lack of an effective freshwater conservation program in Cozumel, over up to 10 years, the island’s inhabitants will suffer from what is known as water poverty.

This means that not everybody will have water and what is available will not be of good quality, said Doctor Adrián Villegas Jiménez, member of the Cozumel Island Basin Committee, who mentioned that he has information that Conagua has issued a permit to install a desalination plant on the island, which is a sign that there is already a crisis.

This is without taking into account the shocking level of contamination of the groundwater, especially in the northern part of the island where the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is located.

Water Poverty Index (WPI) is used as a tool to determine many indicators that relate to water resources sustainability and their impacts on people [Sullivan, 2002; Sullivan et al., 2006]. Sullivan (2002) developed the WPI to reflect five components: Resource (R), Access (A), Capacity (C), Use (U), and Environment (E).

US National Library of Medicine

Environmentalist Guadalupe Álvarez Chulin stated that pollution in that area is not the only one, but it is the most important. “It is a problem that no government, federal or state, has wanted to face,” she said. 

“The UNESCO MaB distinction that the municipality received in 2017 is a simulation, since what happens there is contrary to the conditions of that international distinction and if there was monitoring by the United Nations Educational Organization, Science and Culture (UNESCO) in the area would simply be lost.”

Environmentalist Guadalupe Álvarez Chulin

Meanwhile, Adrián Villegas from the Cozumel Island Basin Committee, stated that in Cozumel there is no hydrological basin, but rather an aquifer, which are not the same and is limited by the karst nature of the terrain and the issue of contamination. 

He explained that water poverty is not for everyone, since there will be those who can pay for water and those who cannot. In this sense, he said that the island is sick due to the discharges in the northern area from the WWTP that runs for kilometers to the northeastern area of ​​the island.

“The degree of ignorance of the Cozumel authorities on the aquifer is such, that at this moment, they are about to make irresponsible decisions without technical, scientific and robust studies that can accurately establish the amount of water available to the population”, stated the researcher. 

On May 24, 2023, the results report of the Water Quality Monitoring Program for the Hydrology Management of Cozumel Island was presented where the director of the Water Sciences Unit of the Yucatan Scientific Research Center (CECY), Antonio Almazán Becerril, made public that 10 of the 36 cenotes in the urban area present “ a critical situation due to the high presence of indicators of fecal origin” (sic).

The speleologist Germán Yáñez Mendoza, today deputy director of Ecology in the municipality, discovered at the beginning of October 2019 wastewater injection pipes in cenotes of the urban area and hotel facilities on the coasts that are close to the reefs of the island.

The staff of the Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) estimates that 50% of the reefs in the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park (PNAC) have been affected by the Bleaching Syndrome that is killing them. One of the main causes is pollution from sewage, stated at that time the director of the PNAC, Brenda Hernández Hernández.

TYT Newsroom


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