Rainwater harvest system installed by the University of Guadalajara. Rainwater harvest system installed by the University of Guadalajara.

Rainwater collection urged in Guadalajara

Academics say common sense and science confirm it's a viable alternative

Harvesting rainwater is part of the solution to replenish the water supply in Guadalajara, according to two local researchers, but convincing authorities to support the idea is proving to be a difficult task.

The academics from the University of Guadalajara (UG) insist that both common sense and scientific knowledge confirm that the method is a viable alternative to ensure that the water needs of Mexico’s second largest city are met.

But both state and municipal governments as well as the agency that manages the city’s water network have so far resisted the proposal to implement a widespread rainwater collection scheme.

The director of a National Science and Technology Council (Conacyt) lab at UG that focuses on sustainable communities argues that if the scheme is to be implemented on a large scale, it will need support from both government and the wider community.

“. . . It doesn’t just imply laws and municipal or state regulations but the creation of official norms, regulation of the production chain [and] the incorporation of other players to incentivize and strengthen [the scheme] at a local level,” Fernando Córdova Canela said.

However, with the right attitude, he remains optimistic that it can be achieved.

“We believe that it’s a long-term project but one that it is attainable because it’s been done in other countries. It’s a matter of organization and will,” he added.

Arturo Gleason Espíndola, a researcher in the UG art, architecture and design center and a member of an association that advocates for the installation of rainwater collection systems, also believes that government support is crucial.

“From the university, we are generating the experience and the knowledge but it has no greater relevance if the public entities are not interested. First, we need the will and then to sit down and work to stipulate a critical path [for the] transition from a model that’s based solely on a water supply network with dams to a model that doesn’t depend on them so much,” he said.

The National Water Commission (Conagua) has made efforts to implement rainwater collection systems in rural parts of Jalisco and there are also schemes under way in Mexico City but to date there has been no concerted effort from government to roll out similar projects in the state capital.

Gleason said that a prototype of a water collection system installed in a Guadalajara house had managed to capture 53,000 liters of water, an amount equal to 40% of the household’s annual demand and pointed out that the water is not only safe to drink but its collection also comes with an economic benefit.

“The quality of the water is acceptable for human consumption because of the natural purification and filtration systems and in addition the user saved 1,232 pesos . . .” he said.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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