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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  • MortimerSnerd

    Thinking outside the box doesn’t come easy. Collecting rainwater is the only way folks in Bermuda can have fresh drinkable water. All wells in Bermuda are brackish due to the porous coral allowing salt water ingression, so collecting rainwater was the only way we could get fresh water. In Bermuda many houses, as ours was, are built right on top of a large concrete cistern used for storing rainwater. Generating all your own electricity with solar panels is now possible, and heating your own water with a vacuum solar powered hot water heat exchange system is within many many budgets. Unfortunately in corrupt Mexico vested interests often discourage independent thinking and living.

    • Crewlaw

      “…vested interests often discourage independent thinking and living.” True throughout the world and throughout history, Morty. Too bad you had to pee on your point with a “corrupt Mexico” sneer.

  • Kai Mikkel Førlie

    Since the article failed to directly mention it, the organization Isla Urbana in Mexico City several years ago now managed to convince the local water authority to subsidize 80% of the cost of installing rainwater harvesting components into the existing water systems at private homes and schools. The logic which won the day is that the water authority could dump a lot of money into drilling additional wells (into depleted aquifers) and constructing related infrastructure or spend a little helping individual households and schools to improve their water self-sufficiency and thus, water resiliency. I agree with the researchers – these systems should be installed in every applicable home and business country-wide.

    In addition to the D.F.s Isla Urbana, other groups like San Miguel’s Caminos de Agua and Tepotzlan’s Sarar-T are pushing this agenda and, in doing so, are helping head off a growing water crisis. They all should be commended for their fine and essential work.

  • frankania

    I do not understand this NEED for govt. bureaucrats, so you can collect and use rainwater. I have built many houses in Mexico and the USA, mostly all with rain-collection and storage, without any govt interference. It is simple to just attach your gutters and downspouts to a slightly raised tank, connect up and start using.