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Mexico City’s troubled relationship with water

06 Mar 2018

Mexico City is one of the most populous cities in the world and it is facing a water crisis. Built on an ancient lakebed, the city’s geography leaves it vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, perhaps most notably earthquakes, as witnessed during the 2017 Central Mexico earthquake that claimed the lives of more than 200 people in Mexico City. The city’s soft underlying soils that amplify seismic waves are also causing the city to sink in places, which can damage water supply pipes causing leakages. Around 70% of Mexico City’s inhabitants receive tap water for just a few hours a day, instead relying on trucks to bring water to local storage tanks. Meanwhile, the city is also notoriously prone to flooding as water that would have filled natural wetlands is now forced over the vast urban sprawl.

This film investigates Mexico City’s troubled relationship with water. It takes viewers to one of the city’s only remaining chinampas – artificial islands originally created by the Aztecs who in the 14th century established a settlement on the site of current day Mexico City. These floating gardens provide a glimpse into the city’s origins and reveal the nature of the city’s silty foundations. The short documentary also explores some of the engineering and planning solutions to tackle these environmental challenges. At a local scale, residents are working with organizations to capture drinking water from rainfall. On a larger scale, there are transformational ideas such as restoring the ancient wetlands, or using geothermal energy from Popocatepetl volcano to pump water into the city from the Valley of Mexico.

This film is the first in a series of films we are producing about environmental challenges and the solutions being used to adapt to create more sustainable futures.

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