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FEATURE STORY

More Water and Better Quality for Celaya and Other Cities in Mexico

August 31, 2012

A modernization process is increasing the efficiency of water utilities in Mexico.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A modernization process is increasing the efficiency of water utilities in Mexico.
  • A new regulation tank and water meters in Celaya allow to give water services almost around the clock to more than 11,200 people.
  • The issue is crucial as still about 10 million people don’t have access to water in the country and many more have service only a few hours a day.

Jumapa, the water distribution company of the city of Celaya, in Guanajuato, Mexico, used to have a problem: they could only pump water from four in the morning to six in the afternoon. Now, more than 11,200 inhabitants of one of the city’s sectors have access to water almost around the clock. How did they do it? Keep on reading.

The utility has been through a process of modernization, supported by a World Bank project. It has a new regulation tank that allows it to control the amount of water pumped into the system to one of its sectors according to the average usage at that time.

Late night, for example, less water is administered, according to Jumapa.

This allows the utility not only to eliminate unnecessary pressure on the pipes, but also to offer longer services. Before, the system had to be shut down during the night, because the amount of water pumped would be the same as during the day, hence representing a waste of energy and too much pressure on the pipes.

The construction of the regulation tank was accompanied by an optimization of the network to facilitate the detection of losses, and the installation or replacement of about 14,000 micro water meters that allow the company to better measure how much water is consumed where and when and allow the clients to better control their own consumption.

Similar actions have been undertaken in other sectors of Celaya, benefiting more than 50,000 additional people. Also, new projects are being considered in other areas of the city.

Open Quotes

These are the indicators that in each water utility are increasing: more input, for more time, better quality. Close Quotes

Gerardo Toledo Nuñez
Coordinator of the PROME program in Conagua

Water: a crucial issue in Mexico

Through the “Water Utilities Efficiency Improvement” (or PROME) project, the National Water Commission (Conagua) works on the modernization of about 20 water utilities, on reducing the wasting or leakage of water and increasing commercial efficiency.

The issue is a crucial one, as Mexico faces a water crisis because of population growth and a suboptimal management of its water resources.  Conagua estimates that at the end of 2009, the drinking water coverage was a little more than 90% and the sewage coverage in rural areas only a little more than 63%, according to the institution's 2011 water statistics.

This means that about 10 million people don't have access to water in Mexico and almost 37% of the population in rural areas doesn´t have access to a sewage system. 

Encouraging results of pilot project

“These are the indicators that in each water utility are increasing: more input, for more time, better quality,” says Gerardo Toledo Nuñez, Coordinator of the PROME program in Conagua.

During a previous pilot World Bank project (2006-2010), the continuity of services in ten participating water utilities increased from 68.9% in 2006 to a little more than 80% in 2009. Also, less water was lost before it reached the customer.

Considering the encouraging results, the US$160 million “Water Utilities Efficiency Improvement Project” was approved in 2010 and implemented so as to continue improving water services in Mexico. Now in its second year of implementation, the project aims at mainstreaming the good practices developed under the pilot project; given the particularly dire situation in the Valley of Mexico, the project includes a specific focus on improving the efficiency of utilities in the Valley itself.