The pros and cons of bottled water

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on The pros and cons of bottled water
May 252010

Mexico has overtaken Italy to become the world’s largest consumer of bottled water and now accounts for 13% of all the bottled water sold worldwide.

The latest report of the Beverage Marketing Corporation puts the per person consumption of bottled water in Mexico at 234 liters a year. The equivalent figures for Italy, Spain and the USA are 191 liters, 119 liters and 110 liters respectively.

Aided by massive advertising campaigns and concerns about drinking water quality, the consumption of bottled water in Mexico has risen 8.1 % a year since 2004.

The Environment Secretariat insists that 85% of public water supplies exceed the minimum standards for drinking water, but sales of bottled water now top 26.032 million liters a year, 70% in large bottles (known as garrafones) and 30% in individual plastic bottles.

This has dire consequences for household budgets and for the environment. In 2009, 21.3 million PET (hard plastic) bottles were discarded daily; only 20% of them are recycled.

The two major bottlers of water are Coca-Cola and Pepsi, whose combined concessions for water top 37 million cubic meters a year, equivalent to the combined capacity of Mexico’s four largest man-made reservoirs, or to more than four times the capacity of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest natural lake.

Water and water-related issues are discussed in chapters 6 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.

Giant whirlpool swallows several boats in 1896

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Feb 152010

An anonymous writer in the Los Angeles Times edition of 13 January 1896, reported on a strange and terrifying happening that struck the western part of Lake Chapala (Mexico’s largest natural lake)…

Startling Spectacle at Lake Chapala.

  • Its Waters Swallowed by a Subterranean Cave.
  • Several Pleasure Boats and Their Occupants Engulfed.

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 12.—(Special dispatch.) Prof. E. H. Coffey of this city, has just received a letter from a correspondent. living near Lake Chapala, State of Jalisco, Mex.. which describes some startling phenomena occurring. Lake Chapala is a sheet of water fifty miles long and ten miles wide. The formation of the country around it is purely volcanic.

On the forenoon of January 8 residents in one of the small settlements near the western end of the lake were terrified to see a gigantic whirlpool raging far out on the water. The waters rose in great serpentine movements, and from all directions rushed toward a common center, where a vast cavity seemed to exist. At the same time a heavy, rumbling sound, apparently in the bowels of the earth, took place. The whirlpool was caused by the sudden sinking of a large portion of the lake’s bottom, and before the disturbance subsided several pleasure-boats were drawn into the whirlpool and disappeared with their occupants. It is estimated that a score of lives were lost.

The whirlpool continued for nearly twenty minutes, and when the inhabitants of the surrounding territory turned their eyes from the overwhelming sight they saw that the lake had receded several feet from its former shore line. As the lake is about fifty miles in length, with an average width of ten miles, the enormous amount of water that was swallowed up by the earth may be imagined. After the whirlpool subsided the surface of the lake resumed its placid aspect, and the subterranean rumblings ceased.

There was the greatest excitement among the people for miles in the vicinity of the western end of the lake, the most ignorant and superstitious natives being beside themselves with fear. Years of familiarity with volcanic eruptions and terrestial disturbances did not seem to reassure them during this dreadful experience.

[This post is an edited extract from Lake Chapala Through the Ages, an anthology of traveller’s tales]

Natural hazards in Mexico are discussed in detail in chapters 2, 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.

Higher % of Mexico City wastewater to be treated

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Higher % of Mexico City wastewater to be treated
Dec 292009

A group headed by Mexican infrastructure firm Ideal SAB has been awarded the 730-million-dollar contract to build and operate a sewage treatment plant in Atotonilco in the state of Hidalgo. According to the National Water Commission, the plant will treat up to 23 cubic meters of Mexico City’s wastewater a second, increasing the proportion of the city’s wastewater that receives treatment from 6% to almost 60%.

[relates to chapter 23]