In a global perspective, water resources have become increasingly scarce owing to the rampant environmental issues. The problems of water pollution and global warming augment this scarcity. Pollution have occurred in major water sources and reservoirs in terms of effluent discharge from industries, release of waste water, contamination by agricultural chemicals and soil erosion. In Mexico, there has been water related problems, which has resulted in water scarcity in the decade of twentieth century. This article discusses the extent of water problem in Mexico and the strategies put in place for effective water management and conservation up to the period of 1998.
The water resources policy of Mexico concentrates on ensuring the accessibility of water to gratify the requirements of the population. However, the issues related to water management and conservation in Mexico has become very multifaceted. This means that resourceful and sustainable water management in the country has been very difficult due to various water related problems and poor policies. These include speedy urbanization, lack of healthy and clean water, a constantly rising population, insufficient sanitation and poor water management at all levels. A main problem occurs because of lack of coordination among the different water regulations (1).
Mexico is a vey huge country with an enormous population of over 92 million. The mean yearly rainfall is 780 mm, the average annual overspill is roughly 410 km3/year, and the rechargeable annual groundwater is approximately 55 km3 (1). According to a report in 1994, per capita water accessibility ranges between 211 and 1478 m3/year in the areas with inadequate water but highly populated. On the other hand, the per capita water accessibility ranges between 14445 and 33 285 m3/year in the areas with more water and less populated. Research also indicates that in 1995, 15.1 million people out of 91.6 million in Mexico did not have access to clean domestic water, and an additional 30.6 million did not have sanitation facilities (2).
Water pollution produces grave public health impacts in Mexico. For instance, the health consequences linked with gastrointestinal ailments only, roughly cost $3600 million dollars, and it is presently the most severe environmental problem in the nation (3). Lack of hygiene and clean water, rising population and normal huge investments in non-profitable infrastructures will probably force the governments to seek out other strategies, instead of relying only on engineering solutions via supply management only. The organizations concerned do not entirely comprehend that triumphant water resources management needs the integration of the political, technical, environmental, economic and social perspectives (4).
The Law of National Waters in Mexico develops extensive goals for the growth and execution of approaches and policies towards water resources management. The mandate for enforcing the law is with agriculture and water resources ministry and the ministry of environment, natural resources and fisheries (4). The law of national waters considers quality of water for the protection of human health and conservation or improvement of water systems. The strategy encompasses diverse approaches foe effective implementation. These include development of a pollution license and effluent discharge system, assessment of water quality, establishment of wastewater treatment systems and orderly development of various water quality standards (4). The major issues of concern are initiation of consistent information systems and the necessity for awareness creation from the institutional, lawful and human resources perspectives. The other issue of concern is river basins as the basis for water resources management and development (5). Furthermore, the strategy stipulates that all the wastewater produced have to be appropriately treated and disposed of in an ecologically sustainable manner (7).
Despite the measures taken to control the release of effluents and discharges, there have been frequent challenges in regulating these discharges. There is lack of permanence in authorities and lack of legislation. Moreover, assessment procedures are reasonably new hence not very effective. In addition, the cost of the proposed physico-chemical analyses by the users is very high and there are substantial complexities with disposal of solid waste. Another problem is that efficient water quality labs and proficiency outside the capital did not exist (8).
The all-purpose act for environmental balance and ecological protection came about in 1988. Nevertheless, in 1997, it had to undergo some adjustments because of the speedily altering situations and the insufficiency of the previous legislation (8). The goal of the new legislation was to make simpler the procedures by stressing economic inducements. In this policy, the industries that take measures to treat their wastes, and conform in a timely way, are exempt of any expense (8). However, many key industries frequently find political options to shun paying non-observance fines or merely choose to pay without changing their major production procedures to improve effluent quality (9).
The article is very rich in providing a detailed assessment of water management in Mexico. It indicates the problems that face the different actors in their attempt to address water issues. However, the water policies discussed in this article do not encompass a multifaceted approach to water management. It fails to include to role of other key actors such as non-governmental organizations and other private sectors. In addition, it does not provide detailed mitigation measures that are in line with current environmental issues such as global warming. The paper has however emphasized the need for proper and effective coordination of the different actors to ensure sound water management. Future research should concentrate on complex environmental management strategies integrating various ecological issues.
It is very possible for Mexico to enhance the efficiency of both the organizational and the legal structures for environmental management regarding the water sector. There should be adequate integration and coordination among the different key players and institutions that deal with water management. This will help to avoid institutional duplication and overlapping of duties. Moreover, there should be proper integration of the economic and social instruments and considerations when developing water management policies. There should be improvement of information systems as well as strengthening of monitoring efforts. Another key strategy is harnessing and supporting the power of public and community participation to enhance environmental management.