By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
As the world struggles against water scarcity, the UN estimates in 2050 there will be 9.7 billion people. 52% will live in water-stressed regions MIT researchers (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) predict, water scarcity being a natural and a human made phenomenon.
WIKIPEDIA: “The essence of global scarcity is the geographic and temporal mismatch between fresh water demand and availability. The increasing population, improving living standards, changing consumption patterns and expansion of irrigated agriculture are the main sources of global demand.”
On top of this there are altered weather patterns, deforestation, pollution, greenhouse gases and waste, causes that can be predicted, avoided and mitigated. Lakeside has its own way of mitigating. Certainly not solving the problem long term, but trying to avoid preventable deaths from water-borne diseases with the use of potable water, coping with the polluted water of wells built in the wrong place. Tests in the past have shown that out of the eight wells around Chapala six are polluted.
Tepehua Community Center has recently opened its own water distribution station. It works under a controlled price system to keep the cost of water low. The reverse osmosis operation is capable of turning out 300 garafones per day. In the little village of Tlachichilco, a similar operation is controlled by the village women. In both these villages the cost of the machinery and labour was a donation from Rotary International, who for many years have been trying to solve the predicted water shortage globally. According to a source, the well in Chalpicote that also serviced Agua Caliente and La Zapotera, was moved from the bottom of the hill to the top by local Government to avoid the water runoff bringing metals and human and animal waste into the well. The lack of trust in local Government caused people to still buy potable water at prices they really couldn’t afford. For some it was medicines or water, even food or water.
The village of Ojo de Agua just recently received 57 water filters, plus a 50 minute training session on their use and cleaning, by the Chapala Sunrise Club, who also put in two large water holding tanks some time back with constant testing of the water.
San Pedro has its own well, and the dubious distinction of having the highest death rate from water-borne causes. They are now getting their potable water from Tepehua distribution station.
Taking water from the lake, to this author´s knowledge, is still prohibited, except for LaZapotera which is under the jurisdiction of Poncitlan. They were given permission to use lake water which is potable once filtered.
The statement “this is not a long term solution” reflects the fact these programs are not helping the scarcity of water in the world. With reverse osmosis there is a lot of waste water. Unless we invest in more water treatment plants or desalination plants, the situation will become tragic and the cause of mass migration around the world.
2020 has been a challenge Lakeside, balancing the need for potable water, food, medical, employment and all the hidden problems. Most of us got through it with help from Churches, Rotary Clubs who are always on hand for a crisis, and our front-line workers (doctors and nurses), especially nurses whose selfless attitude is remarkable. The number who caught Covid has never been counted.
So little is known about the brave work of the Brigadista’s in the village of San Pedro...a group of young first responders, who take on the job of nursing, testing, food and water distribution and many other things. Lakeside is not short of heroes.
Let’s hope 2021 will be a year of recovery instead of more of the same. Give our heroes the support they need to finish the job.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.