Water is frequently scarce in Iztapalapa. Water is frequently scarce in Iztapalapa.

Harvesting rain in water-short Iztapalapa

1,900 families in the Mexico City borough get a rainwater collection system

A rainwater harvesting project has arrived in the sprawling Mexico City borough of Iztapalapa, ensuring that families that have installed the collection system have access — at least in the rainy season — to an essential substance not always readily available.

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Iztapalapa is the capital’s most populated and poorest borough and many homes rely on infrequent water deliveries.

Funding of 80 million pesos (almost US $4.5 million) was invested in the Cosecha de Agua (water harvest) scheme that has so far provided a solution for 1,900 families across 59 different neighborhoods. The Iztapalapa government accessed the money through a federal social infrastructure fund.

Local authorities equipped households with the different elements of the system which includes a 2,500-liter tinaco (water tank), eight meters of PVC piping, a pump, chlorine tablets, a valve and a water filter.  They also received training in the operation and maintenance of the system.

Rainwater is captured on the rooftops of houses before being filtered through the piping to remove any large waste products. The water is then transferred to the tinaco where it is left for at least an hour with chlorine tablets for proper treatment.

Finally, the captured water is passed again through the filter, removing any remaining contaminants and leaving it ready for use.

One beneficiary of the project, Jorge Rosas, says that in the 30 years he has lived in the borough, water scarcity has been one of the biggest problems he has experienced.

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“There was a week when no one in the family bathed because not even the pipas (water tankers) came,” he recalled.

Now with the harvesting system in place, he and his family no longer have to store water for emergencies.

“For my family, it has been a good option because with the water . . . we can wash the dishes, the floors and clothes and even shower. It’s completely clean water and if you carry out the steps . . . it’s easy to get,” Rosas said while holding a glass of the recycled water.

Prior to the installation of the system, he spent up to 2,000 pesos (US $112) a month on water delivery services as his home is not included in a free local government water program.

It is estimated that of 1.8 million people who live in the borough, 80% do not have optimal water supply and some residents even claim to have gone up to 20 days without access.

A further 1,900 homes are expected to be added to the scheme in 2018.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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