lunes, febrero 27, 2006

The Pollution Problem

Local government is still not part of the solution regarding our water pollution problems. Our water treatment plants in Zihuatanejo, even if they could run at full capacity (which I don't believe they do and neither do the other local ecologists) are still woefully inadequate to deal with the existing population and tourism infrastructure, yet on the one hand the hills are being bulldozed for new major development on both "arms" of the bay as well as being overrun by squatters on the other hand. It is certainly a recipe for disaster given the current chaotic lack of planning and inadequate infrastructure. Raw sewage from clandestine drain next to La Boquita CanalLast year I published photos of the raw sewage entering the bay via the clandestine sewer next to the museum that flows into the mouth of the canal where it meets the bay. It caused a stir among local officials, who at first claimed it was storm runoff (never mind the fact there was no rain at the time) and later they simply closed the valve. Well, it's been opened again and raw sewage is once again flowing directly into the bay from that same source. It certainly is appalling and unacceptable, but the responsible public officials act like they don't know about it and even less like they care. The Las Salinas Lagoon west of downtown is also a source of pollution with many open sewers flowing directly into it as well as inadequately treated water from the "El Limón" water treatment plant, and the government is talking about dredging it, which would of course spell disaster for the rest of the bay if it is not done properly by closing off the lagoon and trucking out the sludge. I am not hopeful that the more expensive and work-intensive procedure will be followed. Unfortunately what local ecological organizations exist have thrown their hats in with one of the political parties, thus alienating themselves from the mainstream population and popular grassroots support (most Mexicans do not identify with any political party). They were snubbed by the previous city administration (the same party to which they had allied themselves), and the current administration removed Ecology from a city department to a sub-department of City Development! D-uhh... a slight conflict of interests there... and the population is crying foul, but the party in power was elected on a populist platform, and after winning the elections they have effectively turned their backs on the electorate and proceeded (like so many other politicians) to concern themselves with consolidating power and enriching themselves, NOT representing the common interests of the community at large. So we see no help coming from local politicians in power at the municipal level. Even less from the state government that, after almost a year in office, has yet to initiate one single public project! Local government seems to be following suit since after two months in office they also have yet to initiate any public projects. On the contrary, it seems that the politicians and their appointed public servants are only contributing to the problem through neglect, corruption and ineptitude. Instead of initiating a building moratorium and repairing and upgrading our woefully inadequate infrastructure, local and state and federal authorities seem hellbent on attracting more megaprojects since they see this as a way to obtain juicy kickbacks and payoffs. Often these megaprojects have influential investors who belong to Mexico's political and power elite. I am not hopeful that we can save our bay from becoming further polluted and unswimmable until it first becomes worse than it is and perhaps the tourists stop coming. It's a time bomb ticking away, but the bomb squad is busy plundering the store and playing king-of-the-hill.

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