The Water at the Foot of the Volcano

Amecameca: Water for the People

Last Friday, Dr. Óscar Monroy Hermosillo, President of the Comisión de Cuenca de los Rios Amecameca y La Compañía (Citizen Commission of the Amecameca Basin in Mexico or “Comisión”), presented a new N-Map film: The Water at the Foot of the Volcano. The film—produced in partnership with Controla Tu Gobierno and the Comisión—was screened at two different events, first at the “Foro de Agua” in Tláhuac municipality with academics and members of civil society and later for representatives of the National Water Commission, the State of Mexico, and DF local authorities of water.[1]

The Problem: Sustainability and Unity

The watershed of the Amecameca and La Compañía rivers spans a region covering 11 municipalities of the State of Mexico and parts of Mexico City. The watershed is a significant source of water for both agricultural and urban use. About 40% of Mexico City’s water comes from this very basin; however, overuse and mismanagement inflict drastic effects on the environment and its inhabitants: from desertification and pollution to sinkholes and water shortages.

Yolotzin Olivares, councilwoman of the municipality of Chalco, recalls the impact of the depleted aquifer on her hometown, “It once smelled of mint, but I can’t smell mint anymore.”

The Comisión, collectively a powerful force for advocacy, consists of more than 25 support groups throughout the state—each with a specific interest. The key is uniting these groups behind a common message.

The Plan Hídrico, developed over more than a decade by scientists, academics, and community members, presents the most feasible solutions to promote sustainability in the area: building filtration wells to prevent further water loss; the protection and recovery of forest areas to retain water; and approval to build a water treatment plant.

Yet despite impressive efforts to create and enact the Plan, its recommendations were never fully implemented.

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The Advocacy Plan: Harnessing The Power of Community

The screenings on Friday launched the Commission’s campaign to present a simple and clear message to decision-makers: water from the Amecameca basin should be used by the people of the Amecameca basin.

Featuring voices from Commission members, engineers, ecotourism supporters, farmers, residents, neighbors, academics, and local government officials, the video compliments the Commission’s efforts to unite these varied groups behind the Plan Hídrico. How? Through framing the key issues and providing a clear message that can be used to unify the advocacy efforts among all the different stakeholders. The video also lays the groundwork for advocacy by including successful examples of filtration wells and reforestation efforts in the community—highlighting current efforts to implement long-term and large-scale change.

Our video plays a vital part in the effort to translate the Plan Hídrico into political change. The Comisión and its network will use the video as an advocacy tool to encourage their communities to advocate for the Plan, a strategy best summarized in the words of doctor Monroy:

“There is enough water for all, but we have to change the paradigm from extracting, using, and disposing the water to recover and use it within the basin, for the people that need it for their work.”


[1] Given the interest of the authorities, the video was presented this Tuesday before the Committee of the Users of the Mexico Valley Basin.

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