Mexico City Tries To Control Odor From Overworked Sewers
By Sara Jerome
Authorities are trying to get to the bottom of the stench in Mexico City, Mexico.
Miguel Mancera, mayor of the capital, recently announced plans to promote recycling and mitigate the smell of a composting site attached to a landfill, all in an effort to alleviate an increasingly foul odor wafting around the city.
"The ambitious $135 million plan calls for construction of three bio-gas plants to produce electricity from compost," The Associated Press reported. "It will include more recycling programs so that by the time it's completed in 2018 all 12,500 tons of trash produced daily is recycled."
As far as the source of the smell, experts say the deteriorating sewage system, not just a single site, is much to blame. "The city's sewage pipes and an underground drainage tunnel, which has to accommodate sewage and storm water, were built more than 50 years ago, and the population in the metropolitan area has doubled since then and the system can't keep up," the outlet said.
It does not help that the city gets a large portion of its water from underground aquifers. That means some neighborhoods are literally sinking, which complicates sewer drainage, according to Sergio Palacios Mayorga, a professor at Mexico's National Autonomous University, who studies solid-waste management.
"What's happening is that the sewage system has less pressure because the city is sinking, and that makes wastewater move slowly or completely get stuck in some places," he said in The AP.
The problem is becoming dire and goes far beyond odor. Mexico City's sewers are at "a breaking point," according to CNN. "The capacity of the drains here is 30 percent less than it was in 1975. What makes matters worse, the population has doubled to more than 20 million people," the outlet reported.
Because of the problematic sewers and a greater need for recycling in Mexico City, it is necessary for a so-called "sewer diver" to smooth out clogged pipes by diving into sewer waters in a helmet and suit, according to reports.
"Sergio Palacios Mayorga, a geology researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said the sewer diver became necessary because of a giant population that still has to learn to recycle and stop throwing trash on the street and in rivers," Rappler reported.
"The diver job will still have to exist for a while longer. The need will lessen as the population learns to put trash in bins and not on the street, which fills up drains," Palacios Mayorga told Rappler.
The sewer diver only pays $480 per month, the outlet said.
To learn more about the water sector's various approaches to odor, click here for previous Water Online coverage.
Image credit: "Mexico City," © 2011 hugovilchis, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/