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Water cutbacks on tap for Mexico City

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  • Mexico City residents could see water cutbacks through May due to drought
  • Officials say move should save 2.64 billion gallons of water
  • Families in affected areas have already started to store water
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From Mario Gonzalez
CNN
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VILLA DE ALLENDE, Mexico (CNN) -- Five million residents in Mexico City and its metro area could soon start feeling the effects of water cutbacks imposed Friday due to drought conditions.

Water behind the Cutzamala dam system is below normal levels after a lack of rain in 2008, according to officials. The dam system accounts for 20 percent of the water used in Mexico City and its surrounding area.

"This year, the amount of rainfall in the area diminished significantly," said Javier Ramirez, head of the Cutzamala system. "It wasn't enough to fill up the dams. In past years, the general water level of the dam system had gone up a little bit, but this year it was really scarce."

The valves from the dam system are being shut down from Friday until Monday. There will be cutbacks at the end of each month through May. Officials say the move should save 10 million cubic meters (2.64 billion gallons) of water in that time.

Despite the cutbacks, officials say the available amount is still adequate.

"The city will not suffer what you could call a water crisis," said Ramon Aguirre of the Mexico City water department. "We will have 85 percent of the water we would normally receive."

Officials admit the only solution to the water woes is a change in usage habits, particularly in Mexico City, which uses more water than the rest of the country combined.

"For certain, this is priority No. 1 for Mexico City, not only because we have announced a reduction this weekend in the supply from Cutzamala, but also because it has to do with sustainability," said Marcelo Ebrard, head of Mexico City's government. "That is to say, the city cannot keep having the same pattern that it now has, a pattern that until recently believed that the resource is unlimited."

Thousands of families in the affected areas have already started to store water. Local and federal authorities are also preparing a national campaign to raise public awareness of water consumption.

All About Mexico CityConservation of ResourcesDrought

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