Violent clash over water in Mexico

Global Business

Fresh water – it has generated great profits for companies small and large, and it’s been the source of bloody conflicts. A town adjacent to Mexico City was the scene of a violent clash recently over water. CCTV’s Franc Contreras reports.

Violent clash over water in Mexico

Violent clash over water in Mexico

Fresh water - it has generated great profits for companies small and large, and it's been the source of bloody conflicts. A town adjacent to Mexico City was the scene of a violent clash recently over water. CCTV's Franc Contreras reports.

Some residents of San Bartolo Ameyalo have been waiting more than a week for this moment.

It’s finally here – fresh water.

This is a service from the city government, they bring water to this particular family one time a week and she doesn’t have to pay a single thing for the water she receives.

Guadalupe Gonzalez is grateful to the Mexico City government for this free service. But she wishes it would solve the complex problem of water scarcity in this town, located near a fresh water spring.

Guadalupe Gonzalez, a San Bartolo Ameyalco resident, said: “We have to take care of our water. They give us 3 barrels of it for each family, but sometimes our own neighbors come and steal it. Before, it would come twice a week. Now we only get water once a week.”

To deal with the water scarcity, City officials embarked on a controversial project to pipe the precious resource in from an aquifer outside the capitol.

Tensions mounted when local residents, who worry that their water will be sent to richer neighbors, tried to stop the project. The riots on May 21 left at least 100 people injured. Five are jailed.

As the population rises, so does demand for water. Some of the world’s largest soft-drink bottlers are reaping huge profits.

This economist says government subsidies make water less expensive. But artificial prices are partly what produce social conflict over this natural resource.

Carlos Munoz, water economist, told the reporter: “Water might be very cheap but it’s so fundamental in life that whenever it’s scarce, whenever it’s missing then families get very anxious. Anxiety and survival develop into conflict.”

Government officials blame the recent violence on local water delivery companies, which sell to desperate customers.

The companies themselves deny the allegations, and argue that they’re helping to quench the thirst for water, which the government is unable to fill.

CCTV’s Phillip Yin is joined by Robert McDonald, Senior Scientist at The Nature Conservancy, for more on water issues and the global water supply.

Robert McDonald on global water supply

Robert McDonald on global water supply

CCTV's Phillip Yin is joined by Robert McDonald, Senior Scientist at The Nature Conservancy, for more on water issue and the global water supply.