By 2030, there will be an increase in both the population and tourists in San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato), which is why it is estimated that the costs of water provision will increase by at least 25% compared to today.
However, the question is, will there be enough drinking water to meet basic needs? According to Conagua studies, the aquifers that provide water to this world heritage city are already overexploited. Shortly, climate change scenarios estimate a decrease in rainfall throughout most of the year, which could affect the replenishment of the aquifer by up to 14%.
This indicates that, in a trend scenario, a Zero Day will arrive, as was the case in Cape Town (South Africa). At that point, the replenishment of the aquifer will be less than what is being extracted, and there will not be enough water for the population, meaning extreme actions would have to be taken.
To avoid this, the municipal government of San Miguel de Allende launched the Climate Change Assistance Program last month, starting in the communal lands of Doña Juana and San Agustín González. They have been the first to initiate the restoration of forests and soils in 83 semi-desert hectares, through the reforestation of 19,000 native plants and the construction of hand-made dams using stones and meshes.
Likewise, the rightsholders of the communal lands owners of El Salitre and Los Torres have begun preparations for the rehabilitation of soils on 550 hectares of land, as part of the Payment for Environmental Services agreement signed between the municipal government, the beneficiary communal lands, and the National Forestry Commission (Conafor).
These ecosystem-based adaptation measures aim to reduce the risk of water scarcity and soil erosion in the municipality and, in the short term, create temporary jobs for the people of San Miguel, in the face of the crisis caused by COVID-19.
The program is led by the municipal government of San Miguel de Allende with financing and cooperation from various actors, including a developer in the real estate-tourism sector, representatives of the communal lands of San Agustín González, Doña Juana, Los Torres, and El Salitre, Conafor, and technical advice from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, as well as from civil society organizations Salvemos al río Laja, GAIA, Guanajuato Conservation Corps and Vía Orgánica.