MONTERREY. The water crisis in Monterrey generated new habits among citizens. With dry keys, most of the neighborhoods, especially those on the outskirts, depend on the supply of pipes that arrive by request or because they are ‘hunted’ in the surrounding streets. But this water is not suitable for washing dishes, much less for drinking.
“Before we weren’t afraid to drink tap water, now we have to buy jugs or bottles of water . In a purification plant a few streets away they fill our jugs for 12 pesos for the situation,” says José Ángel Rocha, as he carries a plastic water tank home with water from one of the pipes in the Independencia neighborhood.
The water reaches Monterrey homes between 4 and 11 in the morning. The strategy, which began in March, has been maintained until now; but, according to the state government, the rationing will end on September 23 thanks to torrential rains that have finally started to fill the dams.
an unexpected demand
Bottled water is still a staple commodity in supermarkets and the water crisis generated unexpected peaks in demand for bottling companies.
Fabrice Salamanca, Vice President of Public and Legal Affairs of Grupo Danone, the company that markets the Bonafont brand, says that although the drought in the northern city was not a surprise, since it is a phenomenon that is experienced in the world, they did not expect that the drinking water infrastructure in the metropolitan area was insufficient to supply the population.
In the municipality of Guadalupe, in Monterrey, the company has a plant that bottles 20-liter returnable jugs, which are distributed in supermarkets, neighborhood stores and buyers’ homes.
With the 40% increase in the demand for bottled water from one day to the next, in all presentations, the company brought inventory to Monterrey from two other plants in Coahuila, in Saltillo and Torreón, to meet the requirements of the population in Monterrey. .
“We were prepared to cover a rise of between 10 and 15% in demand related to seasonality, due to the heat in Monterrey, but we had to face a 40% rise,” says the manager.
To distribute bottled water to points of sale, the company increased truck operator shifts, hired more staff, and moved more sales units. In addition to these movements, Bonafont has not made increases in the price of its products in the city, when in other geographies the increase was 3.5% and was applied in February, in order to compensate for inflation.
To support the community, the company adapted its production lines to fill generic jugs with drinking water that the State Department of Social Development distributed to people in the areas most affected by the water crisis. In addition, it took -from the hand of the municipal government- water in pipes to businesses that have dispensers.
But the demand for bottled water has not stopped. In an HEB located in Jardines del Cerro, in Monterrey, buyers bring their 20-liter jugs, whose purchase is limited to two units. A consumer comments that since the supply of water per week was shortened, his family buys between two and three 20-liter containers, which are used for drinking, preparing food and washing dishes.
In a Soriana in the center of the city, the sale of bottled water was limited to four pieces for presentations of more than 2.5 liters, and 12 pieces for those of smaller size, but there were 2 for 1 promotions in some brands, such as Ciel, in its liter presentation.
In Oxxo stores, of the Mexican Economic Development (Femsa), there are no restrictions for the purchase and the prices of the products are the same as in the units of Mexico City.
Residents cry out for rainwater
Ezequiel, an Uber driver who lives downtown, says bottled water prices have been stabilizing. “In the first days without water, everyone went crazy and jugs of water were sold for more than 200 pesos, because people bought to resell. Now he is calmer and the jug is filled up to 15 pesos. We are just waiting for the rain to fall to see if this is finished composing”, he says.
The expected torrential rains – which are expected to fill the dams that supply the city with water – began to fall on Sunday.
“Soon we will restore the water service. Once the turbidity goes down and the garbage no longer affects the pumping, we are going to give good news to the people of Monterrey,” said Samuel García, governor of Nuevo León, in a message on social networks on Monday.