Global Awareness conference speaks on worldwide water issues

Differing nations suffer similar water issues

By Juan Calvillo

Having no natural sources of water, both Los Angeles and Mexico City have to use water systems to get their citizens water.

 In Los Angeles the LA Aqueduct is used, while in Mexico City the Lerma-Cutzamala system is used. Kelly Figueroa, a member of the political science club at East Los Angeles College, and Artemio Reyes talked about the ways these water systems affect the populations of their respective cities when they work, and when they do not.

Figueroa said that early on the LA river area was an area that could be flooded. She said that the reason the city became limited in its water options is because of the Los Angeles river. Figueroa said that the most recent flood to date was the 1938 river flood. This flood killed more than a hundred people and was the result of five days of rainfall.

She said that after this flood, the people of LA wanted to make the city into a great metropolitan area. Figueroa said that William Mulholland was responsible for creating the infrastructure and the aqueduct system for the city. The LA river was recreated as a drainage system. This change to the river pushed Mulholland to find new resources for LA to get water from. Figueroa said that this caused a water war to erupt.

Figueroa said that as of now, some people have easy access to groundwater, and that most have to rely on either the public water system or private water systems. Public water systems are managed by local or state governments and try to comply with the rules for safe water. Private water systems are not subject to these restrictions or regulated as much.

Reyes said that Mexico City was built over a lake and is currently divided into 16 districts, and more than half live in poverty. The district of Cuauhtémoc is just one of the districts that is prone to flooding.

Reyes said that researchers have called Mexico City a hydraulic paradigm. This means that during some seasons, sections of the city suffer from floods while others go without water. Reyes said that the government tried to change that by creating water systems that moved water from the south section of the city to the northern parts. 

Unfortunately, this move has simply made it so that now, the northern sections get flooded while the southern sections go without water. Mexico City also relies on a series of groundwater aquifers that provide water for the city. Some of these aquifers are now reaching dangerous levels of over use, and this has caused the city to begin sinking.

The solution for water shortage is the Lerma-Cutzamala water system. Reyes said that the water source is in Michoacán and this water system was the cheapest and easiest way to move water to Mexico City.

Figueroa said that making changes can help the water situation not only in Los Angeles but on the ELAC campus. She said that a petition is trying to be cleared to have the campus fitted with water fill up stations. 

This would help with giving students the option of getting refillable containers to store water and do away with the need for reusable water bottles on campus.

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