As demand for water has grown, researchers say a lack of rain has combined with mismanagement to cause one of the worst droughts in the northern half of the country

By Kasha Patel and 

Lauren Tierney

August 9, 2022

Water has become a sacred commodity in northern Mexico.

Reservoirs have been hitting the bottom of their basins. Taps have beenrunning dry for millions of people in the city of Monterrey, where the water shortage was called a matter of national security. Water bills have skyrocketed.

People have sabotaged pipes that could divert water to other cities. Truck drivers delivering water have been kidnapped.

Ranchers in rural areas have lost livestock or sold their herds prematurely because they can’t feed them.

“People are making lines to obtain a few liters of water. … I wonder how it is possible that they reach this level?” said Víctor Magaña-Rueda, a climatologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “In March, nobody was talking about the socioeconomic drought, and, all of a sudden, we realized that Monterrey was facing one of the worst droughts ever seen in the area.”

For more than a year, northern Mexico has experienced abnormally dry to exceptional drought conditions, but water shortages have become increasingly dire in recent months.

A man carries a jug of water on his back on Aug. 3 during public water distribution, while the water shortage continues in Garcia. (Daniel Becerril/Reuters)
The Miguel Gomez dam, known as La Boca, in the municipality of Santiago in Nuevo León state on July 4. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

As demand has grown, researchers say a lack of rain and, especially,water mismanagement have led to one of the worst droughts in the northern half of the country. As populations continue to increase and temperatures keep rising, speeding up evaporation from the land surface, water problems will worsen without better adaptation.


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