Data-driven, sustainable drinking water provision in Mexico

May 28, 2019

On 20 May, the water utility SAPAZA, the municipality of Zapotlán El Grande and MGB Victoria from Mexico, Eijkelkamp Soil & Water, Dareius and KWR signed a collaboration agreement in the area of urban water. The occasion was attended by a Mexican delegation – comprising representatives from several municipalities and companies, the State of Jalisco and the Mexican embassy in the Netherlands – and by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

In the agreement the parties express their intention to work together on a sustainable drinking water provision for the Mexican city of Ciudad Guzmán. They will focus in particular on the sustainable management of groundwater, in combination with the refurbishment and optimisation of the existing distribution network. Many cities in Mexico do not have a continuous water provision. ‘The cities are growing quickly and their distribution networks can’t accommodate such growth,’ according to José de Jesús Guerrero Zúñiga, mayor of Zapotlán El Grande, which encompasses Ciudad Guzmán. ‘For the sake of the health of the residents, it is extremely important that the drinking water provision be improved,’ says SAPAZA director, Alfonso Delgado Briseño. ‘Our aim is to soon provide clean, safe drinking water at the tap, 24 hours a day.’

With a joint project the parties want to increase supply assurance and, at the same time, lower costs by reducing energy consumption. The ambition is to develop the water provision in Ciudad Guzmán into a compelling reference for all of Mexico, particularly with regard to the sustainable use of water and energy. The research will generate new knowledge, with the ultimate goal of achieving an integrated design for a data-driven, sustainable drinking water provision. The development of intelligent wells will play an important part. These intelligent wells make use of sensor data to determine how much water can be abstracted sustainably: in line with demand, source capacity, and optimal well management (to avoid clogging for example). The distribution network will also be improved: the existing network will be tailored to the city’s actual water demand, through the application of the Self-Cleaning Networks technology, which was developed and is operational in the Netherlands. The upgrading of the distribution network will involve the use of trenchless technology, which will keep excavation work to a minimum.

The project will be led by Victoria and KWR – these two entities were also at the project’s conception via their collaboration within the international Watershare network. ‘Watershare makes knowledge available so that all of its members can benefit. And this project’s experience will also be brought into the network,’ says Victoria’s director, Raúl Mejorada. Dareius will be making available the extensive knowledge and experience of the engineering firms Aveco de Bondt and Wareco in the field of urban groundwater; while Eijkelkamp Soil & Water will contribute to the development of the intelligent wells. The plan is to start the project in the second half of 2019, and to complete it in three years.