A Lecture by Margarita Gómez-Galvarriato Freer

PLEA2012 – 28th Conference, Opportunities, Limits & Needs Towards an environmentally responsible architecture Lima, Perú 7-9 November 2012


Mexico City is situated on an elevated valley surrounded by a ring of mountains within an endhoreic basin.
The urban area continues to claim land from an ancient lake and the surrounding foothills. Major infrastructure has been built overtime to extract seasonal rainfall and sewage out of the valley that has caused severe flooding through the centuries. Even larger infrastructure has been introduced to import water from adjacent basins to complete the insufficient and over-exploited aquifer extraction. However, the city is still unable to satisfy the needs of its over 20 million population, thus creating the paradox of this increasingly thirsty metropolis, developing within a flood plain: Its simultaneous lack and excess of water.
Rainwater falling on the surrounding hills infiltrates the soil, to refill the aquifers, and runs through streams that go into the sewage system when entering the urban area. Informal-settlements grow on these foothills, occupying former co-opted lands. They have gradually consolidated, progressively achieving basic urban infrastructure and legal ownership of the land, but they still face acute water scarcity and have a negative influence on water running downstream.
This project conducts a study of one of these communities. It analyses its water balance and its physical and socioeconomical conditions in order to produce alternative solutions. First, one where water needs can be provided through rainwater harvesting and water reuse: Water Zero. A second one, where the negative influence on water running out reverts to become a clean water source for downstream communities: Water Plus.
A non-governmental organisation (Isla Urbana) working within the community, has developed and installed appropriate rainwater harvesting systems. Through the evaluation of its vision, methods and performance, this project aims to produce a community action project methodology that can provoke the community’s evolution towards water sustainability.

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Water Plus – From informal to water-sustainable, from water-sustainable to water-provider

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