Many cities in Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing a water crisis as sources become exhausted or degraded. Urbanization, deteriorating infrastructures with a lack of funds for repairs, and inadequate polices are conspiring to cause water shortages.
People are becoming concentrated in megacities, such as Mexico City with a population of almost 23 million, that have outgrown their water-supply systems. Urban areas are increasingly incapable of supplying water and sewer systems for their populations. By the year 2020, more than 500 million inhabitants of Latin America (two-thirds of the population) will be living in cities of more than 100 000.
Water shortages are a complex issue of both supply and demand. In Thirsty Cities, author Danilo Anton provides pertinent geological and environmental information as he discusses surface and groundwater supplies and explores the many issues surrounding access to water in cities. He explains the significance of surface water contamination and the vulnerability of groundwater systems and provides a persuasive argument that the consequences of this situation may be catastrophic. He also outlines policies and investments that are needed to improve urban water supplies.
Latin America: The Thirsty Cities is a one-hour video that complements the book. It investigates water issues in four Latin American cities: Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Lima and Sao Paulo. The video is available through the National Film Board of Canada.
Danilo J. Anton, a Uruguayan-Canadian geographer with over 25 years' experience in the environmental field, has managed research projects in more than 30 countries. His work has dealt with desertification problems of the Third World megalopolises, and the development of non-traditional water sources, such as snow and ice in Pakistan and coastal fogs in Chile and Peru. His most recent work, also published by IDRC, is Diversity, Globalization, and the Ways of Nature