Sustainable Approaches for Water Resources Management in the Mixteca Oaxaqueña, Mexico

San Miguel Huautla and Santa Catarina Adequez, mexico

San Miguel Huautla has approximately 295 households, and a population of 1,200. Even though there is a distribution system, the majority of the community lacks access to it. Shortage of water is a distress among the population; however, respiratory illness was reported as the biggest concern according to the staff of the local clinic.

Many people have inefficient stoves and are constantly breathing smoke from burning wood when they cook and boil their water. Boiling water is the main water treatment approach implemented. Santa Catarina Adequez is a community containing about 1,000 people. During the rainy season, Santa Catarina Adequez receives heavy precipitation, which has led to catastrophic erosion and the degradation of streams. The community currently receives their water through a distribution system with a supply on a three-day rotation for different sections of the town each day. Many people leave their drinking water in uncovered jugs and tanks. Unhygienic water storage, inadequate water handling and poor sanitation practices originate the transmission of waterborne diseases among the population of both towns.

Nochixtlan Mexico

The recommended approach developed by the CEE 449 students for these communities combines source protection systems and household level solutions including ion exchange, filtration, and chlorination processes. The improvement of boiling practices is required since it is the most common treatment technique used. In order to do this, improved cook stoves are needed since many households lack of adequate stove ventilation which is causing many people, especially women, to suffer from respiratory illnesses. A strong education component is necessary to ensure safe water hygiene practices combined with the implementation of improved latrines. Particularly for Santa Catarina Adequez, rainwater harvesting systems would improve the situation with soil erosion during the rainy season. Lastly, grey-water reuse systems for crop irrigation are a priority for both communities. The collaboration with the Centro de Desarrollo Integral Campesino de la Mixteca (CEDICAM) is fundamental to nourish sustainability of the solutions.


Sustainable Designs for Safe Water Systems in Yaxunah and Chimay, Mexico

Yucatan, Mexico

The state of Yucatan is located in Southeast Mexico and is considered the main state within the Yucatan Peninsula region. Cenotes are sinkholes linked to groundwater that constitutes the largest source of water to the local inhabitants. Yaxunah is a small indigenous Mayan community approximately 20 miles away from Chichen Itza; the main archeological site in the area. Yaxunah consists of approximately 143 households. Chimay is located about 3 miles away from Yaxunah and has approximately 25 households. Most people in both communities have access to the public water supply; however, the current distribution systems are unreliable and the water provided is affected by the lack of sanitation facilities. The cenotes that serve as main sources of water for both communities are open and exposed to contaminated water runoff. Animals, such as bats and birds, live in the cenotes and their feces pollute the water. In addition, the extremely permeable soil of the area favors the infiltration of contaminated water into the sources people use for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing. Access to health services is very limited as there is only one small clinic at Yaxunah that serves for both communities.

Yaxunah Mexico

Source protection of the cenotes is needed to improve the water quality at this initial step in the water distribution network. An adequate water treatment system, using chlorine as disinfectant, incorporated to the main storage tanks that provide water to the communities is proposed. Implementation of ventilated improved latrines that prevent the infiltration of contaminated water into the underground aquifers will greatly improve the health of the population. In addition, sanitation facilities for each household are a dominant need. Adequate sanitation practices complemented with educational programs to assure sustainable implementation and maintenance of the storage tanks and the sanitation facilities are a priority in this effort.


Sustainable Drinking Water Supply Systems for Tamiahua and Las Cucharas, Mexico

Veracruz, Mexico

The municipalities of Tamiahua and Las Cucharas, located along la Laguna de Tamiahua in the State of Veracruz, Mexico, have populations of around 24,000 and 1,600 respectively. Neither of the communities has access to safe drinking water; they are provided with non-potable water through a distribution system. Many of the inhabitants of both locations struggle with both drinking water quality and sanitation issues. Waterborne illnesses are widespread; diarrhea and stomach pains are common recurring illnesses that have become part of people’s life at Tamiahua and Las Cucharas.

Tamiahua Mexico

Centralized systems were designed for both municipalities, and point-of-use treatments were considered until the system can be built and implemented. The proposed treatment system consisted of riverbank filtration, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, slow sand filtration and chlorination steps. This system would complement the existing storage tank available at both locations before water is send through the distribution network. Sustainability of the recommended approach requires the engagement of the community members, local governmental and non-governmental organizations, and partnering universities to ensure adequate usage and maintenance of the utility. An educational and social awareness plan, mainly targeted at women and children, was developed to stress the importance of safe drinking water, and adequate water handling and sanitation practices.