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Published: 16:32, July 30, 2022 | Updated: 18:17, July 30, 2022
Mexico: Drought in northern state matter of 'national security'
By Reuters
Published:16:32, July 30, 2022 Updated:18:17, July 30, 2022 By Reuters

Neighbors wait in line to collect water in plastic containers at a public collection point in Monterrey, Mexico on June 20, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)

MONTERREY, Mexico - Mexico declared the water shortage in the northern state of Nuevo Leon a matter of "national security" on Friday as the region, home to Mexico's industrial capital, has been crippled by a worsening drought in recent months.

In a declaration issued Friday afternoon, the federal government said available water should be prioritized for public use, and said existing federal water concessions to private companies could be modified or reduced.

This AFP graphic dated July 22, 2022 shows the map of Mexico with drought intensity in May 2021, when more than 50 percent of the country was affected, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Outrage has grown in recent months across the metropolitan area of Monterrey, home to some 5.3 million people, as authorities sharply limited water access to residents, even as commercial bottlers and beer companies continued to extract what amounts to billions of gallons of water annually under federal concessions

"We're going to be able to guarantee water (in the state of Nuevo Leon) eight to 10 more years," President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said earlier on Friday during his regular news conference.

Outrage has grown in recent months across the metropolitan area of Monterrey, home to some 5.3 million people, as authorities sharply limited water access to residents, even as commercial bottlers and beer companies continued to extract what amounts to billions of gallons of water annually under federal concessions.

ALSO READ: Italy declares state of emergency for drought-stricken north

Heineken, which according to Mexico's national water authority CONAGUA holds permits in the area for 3.6 million cubic meters of water, said earlier this month it would hand over the equivalent of 20 percent of the potable water used in its processes to residents.

Photos of canned water donated by Heineken went viral on social media in recent days, sparking criticisms from those who continue to lack water at home.

In June, authorities began curtailing access to running water across the metropolitan area to only a few hours each morning. read more

The water rationing has sparked sporadic demonstrations, with some residents protesting that they have gone stretches of days, and sometimes even weeks, without receiving running water at all. 

READ MORE: UN warns drought may be 'the next pandemic'

Bottler Arca Continental, one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in Latin America and which also operates in Nuevo Leon, referred a request for questions to the local business chamber Caintra, which declined to comment.

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