Water shortages are continuing in Mexico’s Sonora state, more than 70 days after a copper sulfate spill in the Sonora River from a mine operated by Grupo Mexico.
Noticierios Televisa reported last week that seven municipalities and more than 23,000 people had been affected by the spill, and that the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk’s (COFEPRIS) reactivation of 30 wells was not enough to restore service to municipal networks. In addition, people now lack trust in the water supply, according to the report.
The National Water Commission (Conagua) said it has increased the number of water tanker trucks, and will install 100 water tanks daily and dig new wells to offer alternative sources of potable water. It will also construct 20 portable potabilization plants.
However, according to Uniradio Informa, more than 100 tanker truck drivers have stopped delivering water because they have not been paid. Tanker truck union leader Agustín Navarro Navarro said the drivers lacked funds to pay for gasoline.
Conagua emergency coordinator Oscar Pimentel said water from the Sonora River could be used for some agricultural activities. Water quality in 30 local wells meets standards, he added.
The Sonora River Trust reported on October 25th that to date it had provided $26.6 million USD in damages to those affected by the spill. This included a payment of $1,130 USD per affected family to approximately 7,800 families.
Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, undersecretary at Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), said that at this point the pollution of the Sonora River is largely organic, due to a lack of treatment of municipal wastewater. He recommended that the population avoid contact with river water for this reason.
On August 6th, some 40,000 cubic meters of sulfuric acid from the Buenavista del Cobre mine spilled into the Sonora River. Mexico’s Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) has estimated the cost of environmental damage from the spill at over $133.7 million USD.
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