“Game Changer” Enrique Lomnitz, helping Mexico City’s water shortage

Americas Now

Enrique Lomnitz, helping Mexico City's water shortage

This week’s “Game Changer” on Americas Now is Enrique Lomnitz, a man helping Mexico City find a solution for its water shortage.

Mexico City is a megalopolis of 22.1 million people. Once built on a lake by the Aztecs, the water supply of Mexico City may soon be depleted. Almost 40% of the households have no access to clean water…from their faucets. When Lomnitz decided to go back to his native country, he knew it was time to help bring awareness to an issue currently endangering thousands of lives in the heavily populated city.

Enrique Lomnitz is the founder of Isla Urbana, a project dedicated to promote rain water harvesting in Mexico, which he says is quite simple. “What we do is, the rain water falls on the roof of the house, we channel it to a cistern and we pass it through a very simple process that first flushes the water and filters it.” Lomnitz says the current system is a disaster. “The current system right now depends on pumping gigantic amounts of water out of the ground and pumping large amounts from a watershed that’s outside of Mexico City.”

Since 2009, Isla Urbana has installed more than 1500 rain water harvesting systems around the megalopolis, helping thousands of families to get access to the world’s most vital resource. Lomnitz says he wants as many people as possible to know about rain water harvesting systems and how to design them, so they will all know how to do it well.

“All of the work that we develop and all the research that we accumulate in development, we share right away in our courses. It’s like a super open source because we need more people to do it,” he says.

After collecting rain water, a family can have free water for at least six months of the year.
Lomnitz says when people adopt a rain water harvesting system, they get empowered in a very literately way, and are less dependent on something. And for him, it’s the most rewarding job in the world. “The moment where you go in a community and you actually can see that you are transforming a situation and there is this sense of need that is starting to be relieved with water.”

Isla Urbana’s goal in five to ten years is to have dozens of rain water harvesting companies in Mexico that are offering rain water systems to everyone. He says even though rain water harvesting systems are not a cure-all, they provide a very concrete step toward learning how to live with water that comes from the sky.

Enrique Lomnitz, helping Mexico City\'s water shortage-

This week’s “Game Changer” on Americas Now is Enrique Lomnitz, a man helping Mexico City find a solution for its water shortage.

Watch all the segments on this week’s Americas Now.