Urban Water in Mexico (1)


A perspective from the Academies of Sciences


A perspective from the Academies of Sciences


IANAS The Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences

IANAS is a regional network of Academies of Sciences created to support cooperation in order to strengthen science and technology as tools for advancing research and development, prosperity and equity in the Americas.

IANAS Translation

Co-Chairs: Michael Clegg (United States) and Juan Asenjo (Chile). Suzanne D. Stephens (Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Executive Director: Adriana de la Cruz Molina

Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Peru and Toronto) and Alejandra Huete (Cuba and El Salvador)

Editorial Coordination

Katherine Vammen and Adriana de la Cruz Molina

Graphic Design

Víctor Daniel Moreno Alanís

IANAS Water Program

Francisco Ibraham Meza Blanco Co-Chairs: Katherine Vammen (Nicaragua), Blanca Jiménez (Mexico) and Honorary Co-Chair: Jose Tundisi (Brazil)

Original Cover Design

Francisco Ibraham Meza Blanco

Editorial Committee

Gabriel Roldán (Colombia), María Luisa Torregrosa (Mexico),

Graphic Design Support

Katherine Vammen (Nicaragua), Ernesto J. González (Venezuela), Osiris López Aguilar, Mariana Guerrero del Cueto, Claudia Campuzano (Colombia), Hugo Hidalgo (Costa Rica) and

Tania Zaldivar Martínez, and Roberto Flores Angulo Adriana de la Cruz Molina (Mexico)

Administrative Support

Proof Reading

Verónica Barroso

Ma. Areli Montes Suárez and authors of the chapters

Published by The Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS), Calle Cipreses s/n, Km 23.5 de la Carretera Federal México-Cuernavaca, 14400 Tlalpan, Distrito Federal, Mexico and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France, the UNESCO Office in Montevideo, Edificio Mercosur, Luis Pereira 1992, 2o piso, casilla de correo 859, 11200 Montevideo, Uruguay

© IANAS and UNESCO 2015 IANAS ISBN Pending Printed in Mexico

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A perspective from the Academies of Sciences


Academies of Sciences Members

Argentina Ecuador

National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Academy of Sciences of Ecuador Sciences of Argentina

http://www.academiadecienciasecuador.org www.ancefn.org.ar

Carlos Alberto Soria, President Roberto L.O. Cignoli President


Academy of Medical, Physical and Brazilian Academy of Sciences


Natural Sciences of Guatemala www.abc.org.br

www.interacademies.net/Academies/ByRegion/ Jacob Palis, President

LatinAmericaCarribbean/Guatemala/ Enrique Acevedo, President Bolivia National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia

Honduras www.aciencias.org.bo

National Academy of Sciences of Honduras Gonzalo Taboada López, President

www.guspepper.net/academia.htm Gustavo A. Pérez, President


The Royal Society of Canada: The Academies of Mexico Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada

Mexican Academy of Sciences https://rsc-src.ca/en/

www.amc.unam.mx Graham Bell, President

Jaime Urrutia, President

Nicaragua Caribbean Academy of Sciences


Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences (Regional Networks)

www.cienciasdenicaragua.org www.caswi.org

Manuel Ortega, President Trevor Alleyne, President


Chile Panamanian Association for the Chilean Academy of Science

Advancement of Science www.academia-ciencias.cl

www.apanac.org.edu.pa Juan Asenjo, President

Jorge Motta, President

Peru Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical


National Academy of Sciences of Peru and Natural Sciences

www.ancperu.org www.accefyn.org.co

Ronald Woodman Pollitt, President Enrique Forero, President

United States of America Costa Rica US National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Sciences of Costa Rica

www.nasonline.org www.anc.cr

Ralph J. Cicerone, President Pedro León Azofeita, President


Cuba The National Academy of Sciences of the Oriental Cuban Academy of Science

Republic of Uruguay www.academiaciencias.cu

www.anciu.org.uy Ismael Clark Arxer, President

Rodolfo Gambini, President Dominican Republic Venezuela

Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural www.academiadecienciasrd.org

Sciences of Venezuela


IANAS Water Focal Points


El Salvador

Dr. Raúl A. Lopardo Dr. Julio Cesar Quiñones Basagoitia National Water Institute

Member of the Global Water Partnership

Bolivia Guatemala

Dr.Fernando Urquídi

Ing. Manuel Bastarrechea

National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala Brazil Dr. José Galizia Tundisi


International Institute of Ecology

Dr. Marco Blair

National Academy of Sciences of Honduras Canada Dra. Banu Ormeci


Carleton University Dra. María Luisa Torregrosa Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences


Dr. Martín ST. Clair Forde


St. George’s University, Grenada

Dra. Katherine Vammen

Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources Chile National Autonomus of Nicaragua Dr. James McPhee Advanced Mining Technology Center


University of Chile

Dr. José R. Fábrega

Faculties of Civil and Mechanical Engineering Colombia at the Technological University of Panama Dr. Gabriel Roldán Colombian Academy of Exact,


Physical and Natural Sciences

Dra. Nicole Bernex

Geography Research Center Pontifical Catholic

Costa Rica University of Peru

Dr. Hugo Hidalgo University of Costa Rica

Uruguay Dr. Daniel Conde Cuba Sciences Faculty

Dra. Daniela Mercedes Arellano Acosta Universidad de la República National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology, Havana, Cuba

USA Dr. Henry Vaux

Dominican Republic

Univesity of California

Ing. Osiris de León Comission of Natural Sciences and


Environment of the Science Academy

Dr. Ernesto J. González

Sciences Faculty Central University of Venezuela


Coordinators and Authors

Argentina Chile

Raúl Antonio Lopardo James McPhee National Water Institute

Advanced Mining Technology Center University of Chile Jorge Daniel Bacchiega National Water Institute

Jorge Gironás School of Engineering Luis E. Higa

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile National Water Institute Bonifacio Fernández School of Engineering

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Fernando Urquidi-Barrau National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia


Pablo Pastén Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Pontifical Catholic University of Chile


José Galizia Tundisi José Vargas International Institute of Technology

Chilean Hydraulic Engineering Society Carlos Eduardo Morelli Tucci

Alejandra Vega Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Fernando Rosado Spilki

Sebastián Vicuña Centro Universitário Feevale

UC Global Change Center Ivanildo Hespanhol

Universidade de São Paulo


Gabriel Roldán José Almir Cirilo

Colombian Academy of Exact Universidade Federal de Pernambuco

Physical and Natural Sciences Marcos Cortesão Barnsley Scheuenstuhl

Claudia Patricia Campuzano Ochoa Brazilian Academy of Sciences

Antioquia Science and Technology Center Natalia Andricioli Periotto

Luis Javier Montoya Jaramillo Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde

National University of Colombia-Medellin Carlos Daniel Ruiz Carrascal

Canada School of Engineering of Antioquia

Banu Örmeci Carleton University

Andrés Torres Javeriana Pontifical University-Bogota Michael D’Andrea Water Infrastructure Management Toronto

Jaime Andrés Lara Borrero Javeriana Pontifical University-Bogota


Sandra Lorena Galarza Molina

L.F. Molerio-León MSc.

Javeriana Pontifical University-Bogota


(Dominican Republic)

Juan Diego Giraldo Osorio Javeriana Pontifical University-Bogota

Eduardo O. Planos Gutiérrez Cuban Meteorology Institute

Milton Duarte Science and Engineering Research Group

Dominican Republic

Sandra Méndez-Fajardo

Osiris de León

Javeriana Pontifical University-Bogota Comission of Natural Sciences and Environment of the Science Academy

Costa Rica

Hugo G. Hidalgo

El Salvador

University of Costa Rica Julio Cesar Quiñones Basagoitia

Member of the GWP

Ángel G. Muñoz International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University


Carolina Herrero

Martin ST. Clair Forde

Ph-C Ingenieros Consultores St. George’s University, Grenada Eric J. Alfaro

Brian P. Neff

University of Costa Rica, School of Physics St. George’s University, Grenada Natalie Mora

University of Costa Rica, School of Physics


Manuel Basterrechea

Víctor H. Chacón

Academy of Medical

Municipality of Perez Zeledon, C.N.E. Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala Darner A. Mora

Carlos Roberto Cobos

National Waters Laboratory Engineering Research Center Mary L. Moreno

Juan Carlos Fuentes

International Center for Economic Policy for National Electrification Institute Sustainable Development at the National University of Costa Rica

Norma Edith Gil Rodas de Castillo Oceans and Aquiculture Studies Center CEMA University of San Carlos, Guatemala-USAC


Daniela de las Mercedes Arellano Acosta Jeanette Herrera de Noack National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and

Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide Microbiology, Havana, Cuba


Ana Beatriz Suárez Selvia Flores Sánchez Ecological and Chemical Laboratory, S.A.

Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources (CIRA/UNAN)

Iris Hurtado García Marco Antonio Blair Chávez


Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources National Academy of Sciences of Honduras.

(CIRA/UNAN) Manuel Figueroa

Mario Jiménez García National Academy of Sciences of Honduras.

Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources (CIRA/UNAN)

Francisco J. Picado Pavón María Luisa Torregrosa y Armentia


Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources Researcher in the Latin American Faculty of Social

(CIRA/UNAN) Sciences-FLACSO Gustavo Sequeira Peña Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros

Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources Water Sciences Division and Secretary of UNESCO

(CIRA/UNAN) Jacinta Palerm

Graduate Level, Mexico-COLPOS


José Rogelio Fábrega Duque Ricardo Sandoval Minero

Technological University of Panama Sextante Consulting Services, S.C. Miroslava Morán Montaño Karina Kloster

Agua del Trópico Húmedo para América Latina y el Autonomous University of Mexico City

Caribe (CATHALAC) Polioptro F. Martínez Austria

Elsa Lilibeth Flores Hernández University of the Americas, Puebla

Technological University of Panama Jordi Vera Cartas

Icela Ibeth Márquez Solano de Rojas Fondo Golfo de Mexico A.C

Technological University of Panama Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana Ismael Aguilar Barajas Monterrey Institute of Technology

Argentina Ying B Technological University of Panama

Casilda Saavedra Katherine Vammen


Technological University of Panama Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources (CIRA/UNAN)

Berta Alicia Olmedo Vernaza Gerencia de Hidrometeorología de ETESA Yelba Flores Meza Nicaraguan Research Center for Aquatic Resources

Pilar López Palacios (CIRA/UNAN)

Gerencia de Hidrometeorología de ETESA


Adriana Piperno de Santiago Nicole Bernex Weiss


School of Architecture

Geography Research Center Pontifical Catholic

University of the Republic

University of Peru

Federico Quintans Sives

Julio Kuroiwa Zevallos

School of Sciences

National Engineering University

University of the Republic

Victor Carlotto Caillaux San Antonio National University of Cusco


Ernesto José González

César Cabezas Sánchez

School of Sciences

National Health Institute of Peru Central University of Venezuela Ruth Shady Solis

María Leny Matos

National University of San Marcos HIDROVEN Plankton Laboratory Fernando Roca

Eduardo Buroz

Pontifical Catholic University of Peru Andrés Bello Catholic University Mathieu Durand

José Ochoa-Iturbe

School of Engineering Andrés Bello Catholic University Eduardo Ismodes Cascón Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

University of Maine, France

Antonio Machado-Allison Academy of Physical, Mathematical and Natural

Sciences of Venezuela

United States of America

Róger Martínez

Henry J. Vaux

Simón Bolívar University

University of California

Ramón Montero

Institute at the Central University of Venezuela


Daniel Conde Scalone School of Sciences University of the Republic



The wealth of information presented in this book is thanks to the 120 authors (all listed in page 603 ) who participated in this collection of information on water resources in their respective countries. They use this information to analyze the urban water context and provide suggestions for improving water management along with solutions to problems related to urban water quality and quantity. The authors contributed their vast knowledge and expertise on a voluntary basis in order to advance our understanding of the present status of water resources in the major urban areas of each of their countries. The goal was to provide a collective synthesis describing the principal urban problems and management strategies spanning the wide geographical and economic diversity of the Americas. It is important to acknowledge the coordination work of the IANAS focal points who served as representatives of all 20 countries and who organized groups of specialists in different water topics as a key factor in assuring the high quality of content of each country chapter. This rich collaborative effort is the foundation for the comprehensive coverage presented in every chapter.

The Global Network of Science Academies (IAP) has provided generous support and inspiration for this book and for which we express our sincere gratitude. We are also grateful for the institutional support and encouragement from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and especially to the Director of Division of Water Sciences of the Secretary of the International Hydrological Program (IHP). The IHP has been a strong sponsor of the publication of this book which is closely aligned to one of their present priorities, “Water and Human Settlements of the Future” as described above in words from the IHP Director, Dr. Blanca Jimenez. We appreciate and acknowledge the support of UNESCO and IHP in advancing the original idea for this book and for their essential funding and contribution to the project.

The seven members of the editorial committee spent many hours in the coordination of the content of the chapters, in editing each chapter and in assisting with reviews and revisions and finally with proof reading of the English translation. For this we thank Gabriel Roldan (Colombia), Katherine Vammen


(Nicaragua), Claudia Campuzano (Colombia), Ernesto González (Venezuela), Hugo Hidalgo (Costa Rica), Maria Luisa Torregrosa (México)and Adriana De la Cruz Molina (Mexico). Henry Vaux (USA) supported in many ways and especially in revisions for some chapters to assure the correct professional English. Their time and efforts are very much appreciated.

We acknowledge the support and encouragement of the IANAS Co-Chairs, Michael Clegg and Juan Asenjo. We are especially grateful to the co-chairs of the IANAS Water Program, Prof. José Tundisi of Brazil and Dr. Blanca Jiménez Cisneros of Mexico. Their special knowledge, acquired in two countries with mega urban areas, was the stimulus for the original idea that brought about the elaboration of this book. Their confidence in the focal point representatives of the IANAS water program was an important incentive to bring the book to reality.

We highly appreciate the coordination and richness of ideas for content, design and organization of the book from the Executive Director of IANAS, Adriana de la Cruz Molina who spent many 24 hour working sessions to make this publication possible.

The team of translators was essential to bring the content of the chapters into English in order to secure a wider international public for the book. We thank Suzanne D. Stephens and Alejandra Huete for their energy in bringing this highly technical Spanish into an English text.

The many hours and creative energy put into the cover and graphic design of the book by Víctor Daniel Moreno Alanís who was assisted by Francisco Ibraham Meza Blanco and the team of young graphic designers is highly appreciated. Special thanks to Veronica Barroso for her support in all phases of the publication of the book.

We would like to acknowledge the special support of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) of Central America for its contribution with the chapter of El Salvador and their support for the chapter of Honduras.

Katherine Vammen (Nicaragua)

Co-Chair of the IANAS Water Program




Michael Clegg and Juan Asenjo, IANAS Co-Chairs

Urban Waters in the Americas

Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, UNESCO International Hydrological Programme

Water in Urban Regions

José Galizia Tundisi, International Institute of Ecology São Carlos, Brazil

A Quick Look

Katherine Vammen, Co-Chair of the IANAS Water Program

Urban Water on the American Continent: the Case of Argentina

Raúl Antonio Lopardo, Jorge Daniel Bacchiega and Luis E. Higa

Compendium of the Water Resources in the Capital Cities of the Departments of Bolivia

Fernando Urquidi-Barrau

Urban Waters in Brazil

José Galizia Tundisi, Carlos Eduardo Morelli Tucci, Fernando Rosado Spilki, Ivanildo Hespanhol, José Almir Cirilo, Marcos Cortesão Barnsley Scheuenstuhl and Natalia Andricioli Periotto

An Overview of Water Supply, Use and Treatment in Canada

Banu Örmeci

Urban Water Management: City of Toronto a Case Study

Michael D’Andrea

Water Security in Chile ’s Cities: Advances and Pending Challenges

James McPhee, Jorge Gironás, Bonifacio Fernández, Pablo Pastén, José Vargas, Alejandra Vega and Sebastián Vicuña

Urban Water in Colombia

Coordinators: Claudia P. Campuzano Ochoa and Gabriel Roldán. Authors. Claudia P. Campuzano Ochoa, Gabriel Roldán, Andrés E. Torres Abello, Jaime A. Lara Borrero, Sandra Galarza Molina, Juan Diego Giraldo Osorio, Milton Duarte, Sandra Méndez Fajardo, Luis Javier Montoya Jaramillo and Carlos Daniel Ruiz

Urban Waters in Costa Rica

Hugo G. Hidalgo León, Carolina Herrero Madriz, Eric J. Alfaro Martínez, Ángel G. Muñoz, Natalie P. Mora Sandí, Darner A. Mora Alvarado and Víctor H. Chacón Salazar

Singularities of Island Aquifer Management in the Humid Tropics:

the urban water cycle in Havana, Cuba

Coordinator: Daniela de las Mercedes Arellano Acosta. Authors: L.F. Molerio-León, Ma. I. González González and E.O. Planos Gutiérrez


Urban Waters in the Dominican Republic

Rafael Osiris de León

The Perspective of Urban Waters in El Salvador

Julio César Quiñonez Basagoitia

Impact of Development on Water Supply and Treatment in Grenada

Martin S. Forde and Brian Neff

Urban Water in Guatemala

Claudia Velásquez, Norma de Castillo, Jeanette de Noack, Ana Beatriz Suárez, Carlos Cobos, Juan Carlos Fuentes and Manuel Basterrechea

Urban Water Management in Honduras : the case of Tegucigalpa

Marco Antonio Blair Chávez and Manuel Figueroa

Urban Water in Mexico

Coordinator: María Luisa Torregrosa. Contributing Authors: Ismael Aguilar Barajas, Blanca Jiménez Cisneros, Karina Kloster, Polioptro Martínez, Jacinta Palerm, Ricardo Sandoval and Jordi Vera

Urban Water in Nicaragua

Katherine Vammen, Selvia Flores, Francisco Picado, Iris Hurtado, Mario Jiménez, Gustavo Sequeira and Yelba Flores

Urban Waters. Panama

José R. Fábrega D., Miroslava Morán M., Elsa L. Flores H., Icela I. Márquez de Rojas, Argentina Ying, Casilda Saavedra, Berta Olmedo and Pilar López

Urban Water Supply in Peru

Nicole Bernex Weiss, Víctor Carlotto Caillaux, César Cabezas Sánchez, Ruth Shady Solís, Fernando Roca Alcázar, Mathieu Durand, Eduardo Ismodes Cascón and Julio Kuroiwa Zevallos

An Overview of Urban Water Management and Ploblems in the United States of America

Henry Vaux, Jr.

Urban Water Supply in Uruguay : Progress Made and Challenges to Integrated Management

Coordination and editing: Adriana Piperno, Federico Quintans and Daniel Conde. Authors: Álvaro Capandeguy, Adriana Piperno, Federico Quintans, Pablo Sierra, Julieta Alonso, Christian Chreties, Alejandra Cuadrado, Andrea Gamarra, Pablo Guido, Juan Pablo Martínez, Néstor Mazzeo, María Mena, Nicolás Rezzano, Gabriela Sanguinet, Javier Taks, Guillermo Goyenola, Elizabeth González, Julieta López, Amancay Matos, Osvaldo Sabaño, Carlos Santos, Matilde Saravia, Luis Silveira, Rafael Arocena and Luis Aubriot

Urban Water in Venezuela

Ernesto José González, María Leny Matos, Eduardo Buroz, José Ochoa-Iturbe, Antonio Machado- Allison, Róger Martínez and Ramón Montero





Water is literally the stuff of life. It is absolutely essential for human health, for food production and for sanitation as well as for a host of other uses. A clear un- derstanding of present and future sources of water and of strategies for the ef- fective management of water resources is in the interest of every country. The challenge is urgent because human population demands, as well as climate change, make once secure sources uncertain. Moreover, water projects are of- ten large and expensive and take many years to complete, so future planning is crucial. Accordingly this volume aims to provide a science-based assessment of key water resource issues on a country-by-country basis for 20 countries of the Americas. The goal of IANAS is for this volume to serve as a valuable reference for policy makers, government officials and planners who will have to meet the challenges associated with our water future.

IANAS is the Inter American Network of Academies of Science (www.ianas. org). IANAS includes all the science academies of the Americas and it has access to the best scientific minds of our region. The goal of IANAS is to bring evidence based science to policy makers and to build scientific capacities in our hemi- sphere. IANAS achieves this goal by advancing investments in human resources for science and by focusing on key resource challenges. This volume is the sec- ond in a series on water, published in both Spanish and English, and intended to reach a wide policy audience. The first volume offered a broad assessment of the status of water resources in the Americas. This second volume addresses the fun- damental problem of urban water challenges. The Hemisphere of the Americas is among the most urbanized of regions on the globe and urban water needs are pressing. IANAS intends that this volume make a valuable contribution to a key challenge facing all of our countries.

Michael Clegg Juan Asenjo

Co-Chair IANAS, USA Co-Chair IANAS, Chile


Urban Waters in the Americas

Blanca Jiménez Cisneros

Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Secretary of the International Hydrological Programme of UNESCO

The UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) started in 1975 as

a continuation of the International Hydrological Decade (1965-1975). IHP is implemented through phases to adapt its activities to the world’s changing needs for the sustainable management of water. The program and its activities are defined through an in-depth consultation coordinated by the IHP Secretariat and the IHP Regional Hydrologists among 169 IHP National Committees, the category 1 UNESCO–IHE Center for Water and Education, the 28 regional and international UNESCO category 2 Water Centers, the 35 UNESCO Water Chairs and other relevant IHP partners and UN water related agencies.

In 2014, the IHP-VIII entered in its 8th Phase, which is dedicated to addressing the global, regional and local challenges to achieve Water Security. Among the six themes of IHP-VIII, the fourth is “Water for Human Settlements of the Future”, covering among other issues Urban Water.

Today, 750 million people lack access to safe water and many millions more have access only to a deficient service. At the same time, urbanization is growing rapidly. In the next 40 years, cities are expected to receive 800,000 additional inhabitants each week. At the global level, since 2011 for the first time in human history the human population lives in majority in cities. This and the absolute or partial lack of services for people already living in cities combined with population and economic growth have been and will continue to be the factors that demand a higher degree of and improved management of urban water. Also, the aging of urban hydraulic infrastructure is evident in many cities and will require significant investments for its renovation. Worldwide rapid urbanization demands new ways to conceive and operate public services, including those for water. New approaches are required to optimize the joint management of water, land use and energy, as well as to decrease the water footprint of cities and to control the transportation of contaminants into water and the transfer of pollutants among water, soil and the urban air. Among the regions with an important urbanization rate, The Americas, and notably Latin America, emerges. This latter region has the highest global rate of urban inhabitants with more than 72% of its population living in cities. No wonder that urban water management in the region is an issue, sometimes well solved, sometimes less so.


This book describes the situation of urban water management in 20 countries: all North and South American ones, and a significant number from Central America and the Caribbean region. To produce it a unique network of multidisciplinary scientists was created which in total 94 involved authors. The book is unique not only for this reason, but also because it covers, for the first time, in an integrated but flexible framework aspects never looked at before in urban water management on the American continent. Among those are water quality, water reuse, urban aquifers, rainwater management, urban floods, human and environmental health issues, and, of course, climate change. Through this multi- directional orientation, the book reveals that the challenges for urban water security extend to cities in all countries. Alongside the continuum of economic considerations, inequity of access to services are a concern, investments to renovate the urban water infrastructure need be planned, the problems of urban floods and poor water quality keep growing, and there is the urgent need to create cities resilient to climate change.

In conjunction with IHP’s approach, this book promotes bridging of science and policy by starting a dialog between science and policy makers. The book is

a useful tool provided by scientists, inter alia for policy-makers because it was produced using an interdisciplinary approach, by combining the knowledge of scientists with the experience of water utility professionals and by applying it to solve practical problems relevant to society. A particularly noteworthy aspect of this book is the importance given to the role of outreach and creating a knowledgeable, participating public, is transparently informed about problems and involved in solutions. This underlines the requirement for, on one hand, effective communication skills among the specialized water community to convey scientific aspects to the non-scientific community. On the other hand, it highlights the need to provide reliable information for societies on public water problems and create accountable governance systems that engage with the public on the planning and implementation of projects.

Because of its content and scope, this book is fully in line with the purposes of IHP-VIII. In addition, the book has contributed to IHP key tasks, by (a) mobilizing scientific and innovation networks, (b) strengthening the interface between scientists and decision makers, and (c) contributing to the development of institutional and human capacities. No doubt, this publication is an excellent result of the efforts of the Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences, in collaboration with the National Academies of Sciences and the countries that have contributed to the book. IHP is very proud to have supported this work through its network and to promote its dissemination and use among the Member States.



Water in Urban Regions

José Galizia Tundisi

International Institute of Ecology São Carlos, Brazil

Urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon. Most of the human population currently lives in urban regions, with populations ranging from 10.000 to 50.000 inhabitants, to millions of people in metropolitan cities.

The health and quality of life of these urban inhabitants depends on a series of factors and natural phenomena, such as climate, geological features, hydrological cycles, plant cover and biodiversity.

Intensive land use caused by the expansion of the urban area impacts human health and reduces green areas to a few isolated spots.

A city’s water resources are a key component in all the complex environmental conditions sustaining the urban population. Water availability, quality and security are all interlinked in urban regions due to the following factors: in many Latin American cities, good-quality drinking water does not reach all communities, especially in periurban areas; pollution and contamination, resulting from intensive land use and the lack of wastewater treatment and eutrophication due to nonpoint and point sources of nutrients. Water security is related to both water availability and pollution.

How then does one transform an urban region or city into a livable environment? First of all, the complexity of a city or large urban region must be understood.

This is a task for future generation of scientists, and researchers, who will apply the science of complex systems to urban regions. 1

Second, cities are dependent on resources far away from the urban area: water, food, fibers and timber are usually brought in due to the disruption of ecosystem services in the urban agglomerate.

Third, the network of roads, building and infrastructure disconnects people from nature. It is essential to restore urban ecosystems. Green cities must build up, protect and promote natural parks, riparian forests and wetlands, clean rivers and lakes in order to provide sites for education and water resource conservation, restore urban biodiversity and reconnect people with nature. 2

These actions will guarantee groundwater recharges and the availability of drinking water, and improve the humidity in the air due to the evapotranspiration of vegetation in natural parks and riparian forests.

Restoration of nature in the cities will promote healthy, attractive urban environments, improve the quality of life and provide better opportunities for employment and education. The water cycle in this context is of extreme ecological, economic, and social importance.

1. Reid W. et al 2010. Earth System Science for Global sustainability: grand challenges. Science vol. 330, pp. 916-917. 2. Tundisi J. G. 2005. Green cities. Letter to the Editor. Science. Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina Nationale

Akademie, Germany. 2014. Water in Urban Regions. 29 pp.



A Quick Look At

Urban Water Challenges in the Americas

A Perspective from the Academies

Katherine Vammen

Co-Chair of the IANAS Water Program

Can the problems of urban water supply and sanitation be solved with better management?

Can access to safe drinking water be improved?

Can the challenge of improving sanitation and wastewater management be met? Can water related health problems and water-borne disease be better addressed in urban areas? What are the water related challenges in adapting to climate change for urban areas and how can they be met? What are good models and concepts for helping to improve water management in urban areas?

These questions and others are addressed in the present volume which is focused on the urban water problems of the Americas. Urban water problems are especially important since more than 60% of the world population lives in cities and this number is increasing every year. Moreover, according to United Nations statistics the Americas are among the most urbanized regions of the world (> 80%). Urbanization goes hand in hand with intensification in the use of water resources for human needs; in turn, hydrological systems play a role in the development and growth of cities not only as a source of drinking water but also for the deposition of wastes. Urban Water Challenges in the Americas describes and analyzes the problems of water in urban centers in 20 countries of the Americas: spanning from South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean to the United States and Canada. This unique examination of the countries of the Americas, each with different water resources characteristics, diverse levels of economic and social development, varying problems related to water quality and quantity and different experiences with water management, is a contribution from the Interamerican Network of Academies of Science (IANAS). The goal of the volume is to aid in the search for solutions to the challenges of properly managing water resources in urban areas as described in the 20 chapters of this book. Evidence from both developed and developing countries shows that to be effective the management of water resources must extend beyond the city to include the surrounding watersheds from which the water comes.

This book is organized into country chapters but each one emphasizes the following topics:

Water resources in urban areas and the impacts on water from urbanization.

The adequacy and accessibility of water supply services in urban areas.

The adequacy of wastewater management in urban areas.

The importance of appropriate urban water services for community health.

The potential impacts of climate change on water resources and water services in urban areas.


Special themes from many of the countries include:

Urban Systems and Water: Brazil.

Conservation and Water Reuse as Management Tools: Brazil.

Urban Impact due to Rise of Groundwater: Argentina.

Governance and Sanitation Sector Management: Chile.

Sustainable Rainwater Management in Cities: Chile and Grenada.

Aspects of Island Aquifer Management in Wet Tropical Zones: Cuba.

Special problems of water supply on islands: Grenada and Cuba.

Historical Development of Water Supply and Urbanization: Uruguay.

Rainwater Management and Planning in cities: Uruguay.

Addressing the problems of water scarcity: Managing Water Demand: USA.

Biological Water Quality in Water Treatment Plants: Panama.

Reutilization of Waste Waters: Colombia.

Analysis of Vulnerability to Climate Change of Principle Nicaraguan Cities

Population Growth and the Structuring of Cities: Mexico.

Climate Change and Urban Disaster Risk: Peru.

Extreme Climate Events in the City of Guatemala.

Hydro-Climatic Projections for Central America: Costa Rica.

Case study on urban water management

An especially instructive Case Study on best practices associated with Urban Water Management in Toronto, Canada is also included.

This unique collection of experiences with urban waters in the Americas rests on

a wide geographical representation that includes differences in water resource availability and levels of economic development. The analyses herein offer the opportunity to draw lessons stemming from the commonalities and differences among the countries of the Americas. Also, it highlights the fact that a significant diversity of water management schemes will be required to manage water effectively.

Urbanization and water resources

Urbanization in the Americas ranges from 50% to 94% of the population in Latin-America and North America, respectively, in 2012 according to the WHO and UNICEF report on Drinking Water and Sanitation (2014). Some Caribbean Islands such as Grenada have lower levels (39%), but the degree of urbanization is increasing. This phenomenon has been observed globally and applies across the Americas, ranging from developed countries with large and stabilized urban populations, to developing countries where patterns of urbanization are steadily growing (UN, 2009). Urbanization concentrates competition for the use of water resources into a small space. This allows for efficiencies in water use, but it also imposes special demands associated with water transport, water quality maintenance and the management of excess water from storm events, among other challenges. If the human needs for healthful domestic living conditions are to be met and if economic development is to prosper, more efficient methods for the management of the urban water resources are essential.


In general urbanization requires more water per unit area while producing wastes, including wastewaters and solid wastes that tend to degrade water quality and that must be managed. Urbanization also tends to degrade local watersheds and their surrounding areas through deforestation and increases in impervious areas.

Urbanization and impacts on water resources in urban zones

Urbanization has not been accompanied by adequate planning and foresight in most countries. Environmental impacts are accounted for in advance only infrequently with resulting adverse effects on the environment including water resources. Examples include: 1) Inappropriate land use and deforestation in the watershed and surrounding areas of urban centers leading to erosion which then brings heavy sedimentation into the cities and contaminates sources of water;

2) Uncontrolled discharges of domestic and industrial wastewaters into surface waterbodies and coastal areas; 3) Lacking hygienic habits of the population and inappropriate management of solid wastes deposited into sources of water or city drainage systems; 4) Contamination of ground and surface water from different sources: mining, hydrocarbon spills from industry and contamination from storage of fuel tanks at service stations as well as pesticide runoff from agricultural activities from the surrounding watershed; 5) Impairment of recharge to urban aquifers due to reduction of green cover (forests, wetlands, riparian forests) and impermeable infrastructure associated with urbanization and more.

Water supply services and sanitation

In the last decades the access to potable water and treatment of waste water in cities of the Americas has improved. The coverage of water supply systems in the majority of cities has reached levels that fulfill the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations for improved drinking water sources and it is important to highlight that Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest drinking water coverage of the developing world. However, as observed in the analysis provided in each country´s chapter, there are still serious problems with the coverage for improved sanitation in cities varying from 57 to 100% according to the WHO and UNICEF report on Drinking Water and Sanitation (2014). An exception is Chile where there has been rapid improvement in sanitation coverage in the last decade such that all collected wastewaters are treated. A combination of factors has made this possible, including Chile´s economic stability, institutional restructuring and significant investments in the context of utility privatization. Despite this success, important challenges remain, such as access to sanitation service in peri-urban unincorporated communities.

Adequate water supply services are generally available throughout the developing countries of Latin American and the Caribbean. The problems are centered more on the continuity of services, the need to repair massive leaks in the existing distribution systems and the need to regulate and enforce controls on illegal connections which affect the efficiency in delivery of water and the economic capacity of the water supply companies to make investments in improving services. Faulty distribution systems have also caused problems in Canada and the United States where there is a need to replace old systems and


undertake new programs of renewal and innovation. The case study of Toronto presents some management steps being undertaken to finance and improve distribution systems.

The lack of adequate monitoring of water quality for contaminants, together with new emerging sources of contamination, is identified as a major problem in both developed and developing countries. It is also important that the microbiological safety of water in most countries is not secure because the detection of viral and protozoan pathogens is not included in standard water monitoring protocols.

It is important to mention that some improved sanitation systems still cause contamination of water sources originating from the same system. Many countries report examples of septic tanks from urban areas and new urban developments that contaminate groundwater sources used for drinking water. Also the majority of developing countries reported massive problems due to the discharge of waste waters into rivers and the ocean without treatment. It has also been reported that 15% of waste waters do not receive even basic primary treatment. Some Central American countries report many cases where Oxidation ponds treating domestic waste waters discharge into surface waterbodies which consequently undergo strong eutrophication and loss of water quality for human consumption and irrigation.

The cities of Latin America and the Caribbean islands are affected by the informal growth of peri-urban areas (usually due to migration from rural areas or consequences of climate change crisis in rural areas) which have little or no water coverage or sanitation. These areas have the highest rate of water-borne disease and a significant incidence of contamination of water sources. These peri- urban areas will require special attention if healthful drinking water supplies and adequate sanitation services are to be provided to the local residents.

For the United States and Canada, urban water issues are focused on the need for improving maintenance and renewal of systems. The deterioration of quality in source waters and of course the water scarcity crisis require innovative financial, technological and “demand management strategies” to reduce loss of the resource and “maintain levels of reliability”.

Urban water and health

The increase in coverage of water and sanitation in urban zones has had a positive influence in the reduction of waterborne diseases (bacterial and vector born) in developing countries of the Americas. Further improvements in the continuity of services, and the renewal and better maintenance of distribution systems would further reduce the probability of waterborne diseases. Where water supply and sanitation reaches only part of the population or is completely absent, the environment is favorable to the development and spread of waterborne diseases. Peri-urban and informal settlements are particularly at risk.

Climate change and impact on water resources in cities

Cities are more vulnerable to extreme climate events especially due to failures in planning for growth and modernization of water distribution systems, coupled with inadequate drainage systems that can be overwhelmed by intense precipitation events. All countries have reported changes in precipitation patterns accompanied by changes in land use in surrounding urban watersheds


and changes in soil use from deforestation which creates increases in erosion and brings heavier sediment loads into cities. The geographical characteristics of Central America make it especially vulnerable to climate change and higher evapotranspiration rates have been observed due to the gradual increase in temperatures. There have been reports from many countries in North, Central and South America of droughts that have caused severe crises in the provision of potable water forcing authorities to ration irrigation and give priority to human consumption. Special examples of drought management and organizations of the water supply in cities are mentioned for the USA in California and northeastern Brazil. Also most countries have documented the occurrence of extreme events of intensive rains causing flooding in urban areas, owing to inadequate drainage systems. Examples of better planning for the reform of urban drainage systems are presented for Uruguay and concrete management examples are given in the Case Study of Toronto, Canada.

Water reuse

Climate change and especially drought situations have made the reuse of waste water more important than ever for cities. New technologies to prepare waste water for reuse are described and these can also contribute to reduction in the deposition of raw sewage into receptor bodies of water in cities. The use of domestic sewage, liquid residues from industrial effluents, agricultural runoff and brackish waters could prove to be a viable alternative source of water for certain uses. The storage and reuse of rain water has been implemented in some countries. It was emphasized that the monitoring of the quality of water for reuse is fundamental in order to guarantee the appropriate quality.

Effectiveness of water institutions and legal aspects

In most countries, progress has been made with the establishment of Water Authorities and specific legislation governing water resources and water management. For some countries the effectiveness of these institutions is not yet adequate and the existing laws are not being enforced in an effective way to promote good water management in urban areas.

Improving water management and institutional planning and oversight

Most countries are conscious that the management of water in cities has been fragmentary and has not considered the infrastructure for urban water management in a holistic fashion. One proposal would entail incorporating, into one organizational unit, all elements of urban water management: supply of potable water, collection and treatment of wastewater, and storm drainage and urban flood control. A watershed based planning approach is advocated to mitigate the water quality and quantity impacts of wet weather flows, including water pollution, flooding, and stream erosion; and which would help better direct urban growth away from high risk areas such as flood plains and embankments. The case study of Toronto shows the integration of urban water management into one institution following the amalgamation of a number of municipal governments. It was emphasized in all countries that proper urban water management must include watershed management within urban and surrounding rural areas.



Obelisk of Buenos Aires, historic monument and icon of icon of that city, located in Plaza de la Republica, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo credit: ©iStock.com/dolphinphoto.


“Despite its vast territory, humid regions in Argentina only occupy a quarter of its surface and are inhabited by over two thirds of its inhabitants. Arid zones account for 60% of the area of the country, and are home to just 6% of the population. This ratio between water and population is exactly the opposite to that of the majority of Latin American countries”


Urban Water on the American Continent: the case of Argentina

Raúl Antonio Lopardo Jorge Daniel Bacchiega Luis E. Higa


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