Aug 182011

The Water Advisory Council (CCA), a Mexican NGO specializing in water research, education and policy, has published its 2011 report on Mexico’s water management, sewerage and sanitation. The report looks at data for 50 Mexican cities, each of which has a population in excess of 250,000.

The report —Gestión del Agua en las Ciudades de México (Water Management in Mexican Cities)— uses data for 20 variables to develop the following 10 indicators: drinking water coverage; drainage and sewerage coverage; continuity and extension of services; productivity; metering; physical efficiency; business efficiency; operating income; wastewater treatment; and institutionalization.

In terms of overall performance, the city of León came top, followed by Saltillo, Monterrey, Mexicali, Aguascalientes, Cancún and Tijuana. Of the top six, three (Saltillo, Aguascalientes and Cancún) are managed by private operators, while León, Mexicali and Tijuana are public water systems. There is clearly no discernible difference between the performance of private operators and the best public systems. Towards the bottom of the rankings, all the cities have public water systems. The worst-ranking cities include several in the State of Mexico, as well as others in the south and southeast of the country.

For water quality, the leader was Ciudad Victoria, followed by Colima, Monterrey, León, Torreón, Tepic and Hermosillo. The ten worst were Villahermosa, Cuernavaca, Acapulco, Oaxaca, Xalapa, Chetumal, Chilpancingo, Celaya, Chimalhuacán and Campeche.

For efficiency, the leader was Saltillo, followed by León, Monterrey, Tijuana and Aguascalientes. The least efficient were Ecatepec, Campeche, Villahermosa, Celaya, Chilpancingo and Chimalhuacán.

The report says that where the private sector is involved, the important issues are transparent tenders; clear, balanced and flexible contracts; effective controls to prevent abuse; legal certainty; and effective regulation with stable, long-term regulating agencies.  The authors also emphasize the importance of pricing that reflects costs, and of removing the payment exemptions currently given to government agencies.

The Water Advisory Council argues that the Federal Agency for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) should be in charge of all water monitoring, though its powers need strengthening to ensure it can fully carry out its mandate.

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