Mexico City's "megacorte" (mega shutoff) of water begins today. I haven't seen or heard much news coverage in English, but it is truly a mind-boggling event. One of the major water provision systems in Mexico City, which supplies water to around 8 million residents in the metropolitan area, was shut off this morning and won't be turned back on until November 4, or possibly as late as November 8. The shutoff will allow for critical repairs. Imagine 8 million people not having running water to bathe, wash dishes, flush toilets, etc. for a week. For those who are fortunate to have never lived without household running water (like me, until living in Mexico City), you really don't realize how much of daily life relies on easy access until you no longer have it.
Mexico City has a major water problem and residents are used to having to endure days or weeks without water. Obviously, some neighborhoods deal with this more frequently than others and, not surprisingly, this unequal access to water maps onto socio-economic class in the city. Even in my upper-middle class neighborhood in Mexico City, Narvarte, we would usually experience 2-3 shutoffs per year that could last a few days or even over a week. This shutoff, however, is the largest in Mexico City's history and is being described by residents in apocalyptic terms.
Interestingly, this megacorte has coincided with the escalation of a heated debate over infrastructure in the city that culminated with a national vote over whether or not to continue with plans for a new airport in Mexico City. The vote, which took place over the weekend, decided against the airport and the President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced his plans yesterday to cancel the project once he enters office in December. The planned airport would have been constructed on the mostly drained bed of Lake Texcoco on the eastern edge of the metropolitan area (not far from the current airport). Activists opposing the airport framed their fight as one in defense of water/nature and indigenous rights. The hash tag #YoPrefieroElLago ("I prefer the lake") was widely used to mobilize the vote against the airport.
Sarah // Madison, WI
Sarah Farr is PhD student in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The views expressed in this blog and on this website are my own.