Chapala and Ajijic get their water supply from wells. They distribute the water via SIMAPA (Administration of the State and the Economic and Social Policy of the Community), which is a government entity. There can be problems with wells sometimes, such as pipes breaking, which is an inconvenience. Generally, there are no problems, but when a well needs repairs, it can be days for a week or two, depending on what the problem is.
Most fraccionamientos (residential subdivision) like La Floresta will have their own well that supplies their residents with water.
Water that comes out of the well is potable, but then the water sits in what we call an aljibi, which is an underground water tank, that’s where the water can get contaminated. You either have to have it filtered, or you can buy bottled water.
I have a reverse osmosis system under my sink in my kitchen so I can drink my water. We also have a system at home to filter the water as well so it's very clean, and we use a pressure system. Some people in Mexico use gravity wherein the water is pumped up to a rooftop tank (tinaco), but the tinaco is also where the water can also get contaminated – with the water sitting in the hot sun, or bugs can get in, etc.
When there’s a problem with water supply, you can call “pipas,” which are basically water trucks that have big water tanks. They will come and fill up your cistern with water. Pipas charges about 700 pesos - 800 pesos (US $34 – US $39) to fill up your tank.
If your residence is in town in Chapala and Ajijic, the city will supply you with water. The water supply gets turned on every day or every other day for a certain amount of hours, to supply your tinaco or aljibe.
We have a big tank at home that contains enough water to last us a week, which we clean every few years. I'm very careful with water because we're in a country where water is very important. I don't wait for the water in my sink to get hot to start washing the dishes. I start washing with cold water, which I do because I have a tremendous amount of respect for water.
Lake Chapala is the largest fresh water lake in all of Mexico, but although it's a large lake, it's not nearly like the lakes that I'm used to back home in Canada. You can get a dry spell after couple of years of not much rain, which can affect the lake level. When I see people washing their terrace with a hose when they could be sweeping it… it drives me nuts because we need to respect water. On the other hand, I've never had a problem with water here in Chapala. I've never been without water. But we don't really know, in the years to come, and as more people come to Chapala and with Guadalajara using the lake for their water, this could be an issue in the future. That’s probably a negative thing to say, but even back home in Canada, I don't like to see water being wasted. I think water is a commodity that we all have to respect a little bit.
The charges for water consumption in Chapala and Ajijic if you’re on city water depends on the size of your property. An average home would probably cost around 3,000 – 4,000 pesos (US $145 – US $195) a year for water supply. If your property is bigger, you can be charged more than that.
(Diagram of water delivered from an underground cistern or aljibe, pictured.)