Mexico City: The Thirsty City
Videostill Mexico: The Thirsty City

What was once one of the most extraordinary and balanced water cities in the world, Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, is now Mexico City, a metropolis where 20 million people have enormous water problems.

In 2018, creative producers George Brugmans (iabr/UP) and Hans de Wolf (Doxy) presented Mexico City: The Thirsty City, a film directed by Alexander Oey and commissioned by the World Water Atlas.

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Mexico City: a rock-solid prop

Tenochtitlan was located on a small island in a valley full of lakes. Since the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the city has grown step by step without proper water management while the drainage of the lakes has continued unceasingly. By now, there are only a few places of open water left, scattered throughout the valley. The city has in fact become a rock-solid prop, as a result of which it is confronted with a paradox of too much and too little water.

Heavy rains cause flooding, but water cannot be retained and drinking water must be taken from elsewhere. On balance, the water scarcity is increasing and, in addition, the current water extraction regime of the city is causing a significant subsidence. As a result, CDMX is not only a very thirsty city, but also one of the fastest sinking cities in the world. How can the city learn to live with water again?