Mexico City's sewers handle more than 34,000 liters of sewage per second from its nine million residents, all of which is sent north via two pipelines into the rivers of Hidalgo
Residents work in the fields at the edge of Lake Endho in Tula, Mexico, January 27, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Vincent L Long ,
26 of April 2016 11:01:31
TULA, Mexico — Helping with the harvest on his family's lakeside farm, Sotero Jiménez was just five years old when he saw his first dead body.Bloated and rotten, the cadaver had traveled from Mexico City, 70 miles (110 km) to the south, carried along by raw sewage and industrial waste.That was in 1982, when Mexico's capital city recently completed the pipelines that carry the contents of its sewers, only a tenth of which is treated, past the Jiménez family's property on Lake Endho, a reservoir in Hidalgo State.Decades later, the filthy water is blamed for contaminated produce, polluted air and illness among the estimated 800 people living close to the lakeshore.[caption id="attachment_14497" align="alignright" width="300"] Lake Endho Photo: commons.wikipedia.org[/caption]Now, recently released statistics from the local hospital estimate that one in three children from the Endho community is born with developmental deficiencies.But repeated calls to federal authorities to clean up what has become known as "Mexico's toilet bowl" remain unanswered.Dismissed as a "lost cause" by one state official, the region remains home to many locals such as Jiménez, now 38, who have grown accustomed to such sights as decomposing corpses."Nowadays we get them along here at least once a week," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Most of them are murder victims. You can tell by their bullet wounds and missing limbs."His 14-year-old son Andrés shrugs his shoulders."It's not the worst aspect of living here," he mutters.Mexico City's sewers handle more than 34,000 liters of sewage per second from its nine million residents, all of which is sent north via two pipelines into the rivers of Hidalgo.The sewage resurfaces in the Tula Valley, where 70 percent of the water was classified as "highly contaminated" in a 2012 Inter-American Development Bank study.The air around the 85,000-hectare reservoir, where the River Salto widens and slows, is thick with the stench of sulphur and raw sewage.
We get conjunctivitis, headaches, stomach cramps, diarrhea, skin problems, kidney failure, dengue fever. The Red Cross (Cruz Roja Mexicana) only just managed to control a bout of cholera we had last year."— Juana Guerrero, school teacher in nearby XijayMayra Paredes, a consultant at Tula General Hospital, said there had been a large increase in the past decade of birth defects in infants whose mothers stay beside Lake Endho during pregnancy.Antonio Aguilar, 5, was born blind. His mother told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that she spent her pregnancy living 150 meters from the reservoir. It has taken five operations to give him 20 percent sight in one eye.It's a similar story with Hector Fivela, 8, who was born blind in one eye and has severe learning difficulties.Abimael Falcon, 10, was born deaf-mute. His mother said she blames his disabilities on the summer she spent beside the reservoir during a difficult pregnancy."The environmental issues in the region are certainly linked to this problem, yet there has been no medical investigation into the trend," Paredes said."It's not simply the fecal matter in the air, but also the vast quantities of industrial waste, heavy metals in the water and swarms of mosquitoes spreading diseases, that affects everyone who lives close by."