Caminos de Agua: Solving the Water Problem, Rotary - talk

Tuesday, June 15, 9:30am
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Caminos de Agua: Solving the Water Problem

Written By: Chris McCaskill

Water quality and scarcity is a problem that threatens the future for all of us, but the problem in San Miguel de Allende and the surrounding region, comprising more than 680,000 people is immediate, severe and worsening with time. These 680,000 people depend on the Alta Rio Laja aquifer for their water, and the aquifer’s water table is declining dangerously—as much as nine feet per year. Wells are going dry and the water that is available is increasingly being contaminated by arsenic and fluoride, creating serious health risks. The levels of arsenic are 22 percent higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) deems safe and more than 12 percent higher than safe fluoride levels. The result, which impacts children even more menacingly than adults, can be dental fluorosis, skeletal problems, kidney disease, cognitive deficits and more.

A large portion of the problem is caused by the increasing scale of industrial agriculture. Eighty-five percent of the aquifer’s water supply is used to grow produce that is exported to the US and elsewhere outside of Mexico.

Solving the problem is extremely complex and has been of concern to advocates here in San Miguel and globally for years. Rotary International has listed the scarcity of potable water worldwide as one of its six areas of focus. San Miguel’s Mid-Day Rotary, through rainwater harvesting, has partnered with local grassroots citizen organizations and CEDESA to build 1,450 family cisterns. It is only a drop in the proverbial bucket, and other technologies and resources, such as those being developed by Caminos de Agua, will be essential to the future of potable drinking water in the region.

In June 15th’s presentation, Dylan Terrell, the Executive Director and a founding member of Caminos de Agua, will talk about other initiatives such as the possibility of finding and implementing efficient and affordable systems that treat ground water in a way that may filter out arsenic and fluoride. This organization is comprised of Mexicans, expatriates, technologists, organizers, researchers and educators. Terrell has lived and worked in various Latin American Communities. He holds a master’s degree in Global Sustainability and Rural Development from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Along with the Caminos de Agua team, he received an award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in Washington, DC for the team’s work on low-cost water solutions.

Terrell will speak about the current state of water in San Miguel and surrounding municipalities in northern Guanajuato and will introduce us to the new Urban Educational Initiative they will launch in September.

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