There are very few disruptions in the water supply for San Miguel at this time ---- but problems are likely in the future.
I first visited San Miguel de Allende ten years ago and even then, most of the people that I met were concerned about water.
Since that time there have been many articles and reports in local and national news and even one in the New York Times that have discussed the water problems.
There have been many seminars, studies, and meetings with comments from concerned citizens and leaders.
Angélica Casillas Martínez, director of the State Water Commission (CEAG) is one official who has indicated that forecasts are poor for future water supplies.
Researcher Marcos Adrián Ortega Guerrero from Geosciences Center (CGeo) at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said arsenic and fluoride were found in the Lerma-Chapala system (the aquifer supplying San Miguel), in concentrations 10 times greater than what are deemed tolerable limits for human consumption. “Arsenic is generating cancer issues among the population. Fluoride has gone from affecting teeth and the skeleton to being associated with neurotransmitter issues, reducing the intelligence quotient of children by between 40 and 50%; children stop learning, and that’s irreversible,” he said.
There are two problems. First, so much water is being pumped from the aquifer that it is not being resupplied and underground water levels have dropped significantly. Currently, San Miguel and surrounding areas are going deep in the ground and extracting ancient waters. These waters are from the Pleistocene era.
Second, the ground waters are carrying increasing levels of arsenic and fluoride which are recognized worldwide as the most serious inorganic contaminants in drinking water. They have been shown to impair learning and memory. They are also known to cause many other medical problems including cancer. Tests show levels well beyond international and national standards.
The contamination affects much of the population in San Miguel – many of whom who drink straight from the tap or use common household filtration systems. Many of the filtration systems used in households and even by some of the bottled water companies do not actually eliminate arsenic or fluoride.
The problems are not insurmountable but expats need to know about them and become involved. They need to know that the well water or municipal water may have high levels of arsenic and fluoride and that many filters do not remove them. They may need to install filters designed specifically for arsenic and fluoride.
I’ve met expats who were positive that drinking unfiltered well water was safe because they had tested it for pathogens. But they did not consider the heavy metals. Many new developments are water intensive with lush vegetation and many pools – this may be a problem. I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for many years and we made a major effort to cut down on the water usage and this should become the trend for San Miguel.
Also, expats are not a separate community; the health problems of the general population affect everyone. Some studies have shown that increased levels of arsenic have led to lead poisoning and that has led to delinquency and crime.
San Francisco Church, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
This entire area is above the Lerma-Chapala aquifer
New Development using plenty of water - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Lots of lawns and vegetation around many homes in San Miguel de Allende