News Feature | February 13, 2019

Only 25 Out Of 150 Wastewater Treatment Plants In Oaxaca, Mexico Are Fully Functional

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Oaxaca, a city in central Mexico, has more than enough wastewater treatment plants to serve its residents. But the problem is that most of them aren’t functioning.

Over the years, state government administrations have constructed 150 wastewater treatment plants in the city, but only 25 are working properly, while 30 function with some issues, and 95 have been completely abandoned, according to the State Water Commission (CEA).

Though it appears that different local government administrations have made repeated efforts to establish treatment facilities in the region, due to dysfunction or other factors, these efforts have largely been wasted.

“According to government records, between 2011 and 2015 the administration of former governor Gabino Cué invested 215.4 million pesos (US $11 million) in the construction of 23 treatment plants,” according to Mexico News Daily. “Despite the investment, 68% of the state’s plants were not operating by the end of the project.”

According to the report, the CEA’s director places the blame on previous administrations’ inability to plan, local utilities’ lack of resources, and inadequate infrastructure as the reasons for so many non-functioning facilities.

“He explained that in many cases the state built the plants but left the administrative responsibilities in the hands of local entities that often did not have the financial resources to properly manage them,” per Mexico News Daily. “[CEA Director Benjamín Fernando Hernández Ramírez] added that many of the communities in Oaxaca that received treatment plants do not have sewer systems or infrastructure essential for transporting wastewater to the plants.”

Furthermore, some of the plants were never completed and, as they sat unfinished, wiring, copper, and pipes were stolen from them.

However, with recognition of the problem and a renewed dedication to solving it, Oaxaca may soon have an improved process for establishing new plants.

“The Oaxaca government’s legal department is in the process of creating a decentralized agency to get 100% of the treatment plants running and to relieve entities of administrative responsibilities,” Mexico News Dailyreported. “Benjamín said that in order to lower costs and be more environmentally friendly, the administration plans to use solar energy in any new construction.”

To read more about how new wastewater treatment plants are built and maintained visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.