Mexico’s other Coke wars

“Wasn’t it you who wrote a few times about coke-a-cola depleting
underground water reservoirs that give clean drinking water to
thousands of people in Mexico, and other places? And also this
water being used for farm land that coke-a-cola is stealing making
farmland useless? Now a report comes out, years later, about how this is bad.”

That’s an email from my  mate Marc over in Québec, pointing to a Vancouver Sun/Reuters item which kicks off,

“The world is depleting underground water reserves faster than they can be replenished due to over-exploitation, according to scientists in Canada and the Netherlands.

“The researchers, from McGill University in Montreal and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, combined groundwater usage data from around the globe with computer models of underground water resources to come up with a measure of water usage relative to supply.

“That measure shows the groundwater footprint – the area above ground that relies on water from underground sources – is about 3.5 times bigger than the aquifers themselves.

“The research suggests about 1.7 billion people, mostly in Asia, are living in areas where underground water reserves and the ecosystems that rely on them are under threat, they said.”

Probably, Marc was referring to a p2pnet news roundup post, to wit:

 “Mexico’s Cola wars continue,” a  2010 photo essay Kristen Hansen, published in rabble news and headlined, Overuse threatens groundwater reserves.

Kristen also took  the photos  which comprise the feature.

Her story says, “Coajomulco is a mountain community of indigenous people located just outside Cuernavaca City in the state of Morelos, Mexico. These people are literally having their water taken out from under them.”

The caption to the picture on the right reads,  “These residents have no water in their homes. The reservoirs are located miles outside of the community up the mountain. The water is collected in the reservoirs without proper treatment, is contaminated and unusable for most of the community needs. Ironically, residents are forced to purchase purified bottled water for drinking, cooking, etc. Most of this drinkable water is expensive and bottled by multi-national soft drink companies.

Another caption states, “Yet, living in a volcanic mountain range, Coajomulco is a location which would be ideal for filtering water. The residents have been told by the government that they cannot dig a well to access the subterranean water beneath them, which would be suitable for their needs. Instead, this water is rerouted to the larger cities of Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The government provides this water, at a cost, for residential and industrial needs — including a major Coca-Cola bottling plant.

“Making Coca-Cola uses up at least two litres of water to make one litre of the soft drink. Some studies believe the ratio to be even higher. Since 2000, Coca-Cola has negotiated 27 water concessions with the Mexican government which gives them the right to extract water from 19 aquifers and 15 rivers, many found within indigenous territories throughout the country.

Continues the  Vancouver Sun Reuters article,  “Tom Gleeson from McGill, who led the study, said the results are ‘sobering’ showing that people are over-using groundwater in a number of regions in Asia and North America.

“Over 99 per cent of the world’s fresh and unfrozen water sits underground, and he suggests this huge reservoir that could be crucial for the world’s growing population, if managed properly.

“The study, published in the journal Nature, found that 80 per cent of the world’s aquifers are being used sustainably but this is offset by heavy over-exploitation in a few key areas.

“Those areas included western Mexico, the High Plains and California’s Central Valley in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, northern India and parts of northern China.

“The relatively few aquifers that are being heavily exploited are unfortunately critical to agriculture in a number of different countries,” Gleeson told Reuters. “So even though the number is relatively small, these are critical resources that need better management.

A team from the British Geological Survey and University College London estimated that reserves of groundwater across Africa are about 100 times the amount found on the continent’s surface, says Reuters, adding.

“Some of the largest reserves are under the driest North African countries like Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan, but some schemes to exploit them.

Meanwhile,  Hanson adds,  “Mexico is the world’s leading consumer of Coke — and perfectly usable water remains just below the feet of the people of Coajomulco.”

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