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Feb 1, 2024, 1:59pm EST
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Mexico City’s water shortages reach dangerous levels

Insights from Excelsior, Americas Quarterly, The Globe and Mail, and Fortune

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Residents wait their turn to receive water from a truck in the Azcapotzalco neighborhood, as tensions over water scarcity in Mexico City, one of Latin America's largest capitals, are boiling over as residents in some neighborhoods protest weeks-long dry spells in their homes, in Mexico City, Mexico January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Henry Romero
REUTERS/Henry Romero
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The News

Mexico City residents are protesting dangerous levels of water shortages in Latin America’s second-biggest city caused by a drought gripping half of the country, as well as outdated infrastructure, Reuters reported. Nations across Latin America are grappling with the twin impacts of climate change and El Niño.

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Mexico City could run out of water by August

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Sources:  
Excelsior, Americas Quarterly

Three dams which supply water to the Valley of Mexico are only 30% full, Mexican outlet Excelsior reported this week. The National Water Commission estimates that Mexico City and some surrounding areas could run out of water by Aug. 26 if reservoirs aren’t replenished or consumptions isn’t cut significantly. Mexico is now one of the largest consumers of bottled water, along with China and the U.S., Americas Quarterly noted last year, and 57% of the population lacks access to safe drinking water. The country needs to overhaul and update its dams and distribution systems to ensure water supply to residents, the outlet wrote. The issue has taken on a fresh urgency in the lead up to Mexico’s upcoming elections: Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s former mayor, is the frontrunner to win.

El Niño, climate change have rocked South America

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Source:  
The Globe And Mail

South America suffered under the heat this summer, with climate change and El Niño — a weather phenomenon which causes ocean currents to warm — both battering the continent. As temperatures rise, researchers believe that the effects of El Niño will worsen. A string of heat waves that hit Brazil lasted for days, and sometimes weeks at a time. Not only are “heat waves more widespread compared to past El Niño events, but they are also much more recurrent and intense,” one researcher told The Globe and Mail.

Panama Canal drought causes shipping mayhem

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Source:  
Fortune

Ships attempting to cross the Panama Canal are stuck in massive queues brought about by dramatically low levels of water due to the ongoing drought. Vessels can sometimes wait for weeks for space to cross, or pay millions of dollars to jump to the front of the line. A drought from El Niño meant that Gatun Lake, a major route in the canal system, received limited rain last year. “It’s just astronomically out of control,” one industry expert told Fortune.

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