Mexico's Water War


It isn’t just tourists who won’t drink the water in Mexico. It’s nearly everyone, making the country one of the most valuable markets in the world for beverage companies. Mexicans are the world’s biggest drinkers of soda, putting away 166 liters of the bubbly stuff per person in 2010, and of bottled water, chugging down 248 liters per capita in 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the Beverage ­Marketing Corp. The latter figure is more than double Americans’ annual consumption of 110 liters.

With growth in the soda segment flattening out, in part due to government antiobesity campaigns (soda sales have been banned in schools), the growth and competition are in water, where market leader Danone is fighting it out with Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

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Eda Soto
Inefficient water supply was the problem in the first place, and continues to worsen with unsustainable and fragmented response from the government. And it is true for Mexico as it is for Panama, Honduras… It is a vicious circle; since there isn’t a safe and continuous water supply, population turned to drink other beverages. If anti-obesity campaigns force soda beverages consumption down, bottled water takes their share in the market. But the problem is still there: nearly half of surface waters in Mexico are polluted and aquifers overexploited; the cities’ inefficiency in distribution, billing and payment collection; the delay in infrastructure expansion and replacement; the lack of a well-trained base of water professionals; the apathy of the population; and the contradictory or inconsistent legal-institutional framework, among other factors. Going to the basics of this situation, and talking about social injustice, I wonder, how do people who can´t pay for soda or bottled water do?
Edwin Muchebve
The government should do more to provide affordable clean water. The companies supplying bottled water should have the capacity supply treated tap water.
In Manila, Philippines, the government gave 25-year water supply concessions to 2 private companies. The government set conditions, among them, water supply network improvement in the companies' respective concessions. The water supply situation improved greatly and is improving.
Mexico can adopt the same concept is the current Mexico City’s water utility cannot deliver water at the acceptable quality and pressure.
Greg Majersky
If it is too expensive to construct a main treatment plant and pipe networks, smaller filtration systems could be installed at the schools to provide potable tap water. Bottled water is just wrong, and can vary in quality itself.
Bassam Hayek
Though this is a healthier option than going to soda drinks, I just wonder how sustainable this would be. Relying on bottled water would result in higher environmental resources consumption and emissions. Just consider how much oil and chemicals are used in producing the bottles, how much fuel is burnt to transport water bottles etc.

I still believe that nothing like a clean tap water. I guess we should focus more on securing the fresh and clean tap water. Otherwise, I am fearing that the market on bottled water will divert indirectly the attention on the quality of tap water.
You are so right Bassam!
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