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As droughts ravage northern Mexico, could Yucatán be next?

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Climate change and poor infrastructure could spell disaster for Yucatán’s aquifers. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Droughts are becoming an increasing problem in several Mexican states. 

The situation is particularly dire in northern states such as Nuevo Léon, where potable water has been reduced to a trickle.

In Monterrey, where aquifers have run dry, residents have been forced to purchase purified water to cover everyday necessities.

Panic buying of purified water has forced many retailers to limit the amount any one person can buy. Photo: Courtesy

But experts say that if action is not taken, Yucatán could find itself in a similar situation in the future. 

Given the Peninsula’s large network of underground rivers and long rainy seasons, it is hard to imagine a scenario where prolonged droughts could become a real problem. 

But even given an optimistic scenario, much of Yucatán runs the risk of experiencing severe droughts over the next couple of decades, according to the Water Risk Atlas.

Earlier: Tap water in Merida is the cheapest in the world

According to experts, this growing threat can be attributed to changes in world climate as well as pollution and poor resource management. 

Indeed, some rural communities in Yucatán are facing serious problems already, not because of a lack of water, but rather because of a lack of proper infrastructure.

The crisis has also begun to manifest in some areas of the Riviera Maya, where water treatment plants have been set up to help deal with the issue.

“Though Yucatán has historically had more than enough water, considerable population growth combined with poor infrastructure and a changing climate could spell disaster for the region’s aquifers,” said Héctor Estrada Medina, lead researcher in water science department at Yucatán’s state university. 

The most serious drought in recent memory on the Peninsula happened back in 2017. During that same year, Yucatán experienced some of its most intense heat waves and fires on record

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