top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Bella Blog

How Safe is the Water in Mexico?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

As I promised in my last post, here is information on 3 of the 5 cities - Merida, San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala/Ajijic.

We happened upon this information by accident as we were in the process of doing our due diligence research and deciding where to relocate in Mexico. Since this post and information are a bit lengthy, I will include the 2 remaining cities of Puerto Vallarta and Oaxaca in the next post.

This post looks a lot longer than it is!

I hope you will find the info helpful.

Why am I telling you all of this?

The purpose of this post is not to scare anyone or dissuade you from moving to your favorite city in Mexico. I'm not bashing any of these cities, in fact, just the opposite. As we know, there are many, many wonderful cities in which you can choose to live. My purpose today is to educate you about a few of the issues present in several of the more popular expat relocation destinations. Much of this information is not as widely known as the many positives that attract people to these very locations. Once you have the facts you can then make a more informed decision about where you want to live.


Mérida, Yucatán

We found much info of concern on Mérida (sorry to say) since many expats are flocking to make their home in Mérida due to the low cost of living and the excellent crime statistics. Recently Mérida placed #21 on the list of safest cities in the WORLD!!! That is wonderful and the city should be commended as they are definitely doing something right! This city was right up there among our top 4 places to relocate.

However, there are other problems in this beautiful colonial city that prospective residents should also be aware of --

Seems that many expats in Mérida believe that the city wells are 100 meters deep when they are actually only 45 meters. At last check the toxins were at 40 meters.

The state of Yucatan, Mexico is highly vulnerable to pollution, due to its soils and karstic aquifer, contaminant filtration processes are facilitated and degraded the quality of drinking water due to lack of infrastructure in drinking water plants.
Several studies have been documented on the pollution of the water of cenotes (sinkholes) with high concentrations of organochlorine pesticides, as well as their bioaccumulation in the blood of women with cancer and in breast milk. The use of glyphosate globally (think Monsanto and Round Up) for the production of transgenic crops has increased in the last decade.
In Yucatan, Mexico, chronic exposure of Mayan population to pesticides is expected as about 30 per cent are drinking polluted water. Residues of organochlorine pesticides (OCP) were monitored in 18 municipalities of Yucatan with high mortality rates due to uterine cervix cancer.

Several cities and their outlying regions are extremely polluted and getting worse fast.

“There is a system called GIS, Geographic Information System, through which the map of all drinking water lines in the city of Merida should theoretically appear, but there are only 25 percent registered, it is not really known on a map where the complete pipeline exists.”
The pipeline has countless leaks. The drinking water system is so old that when one leak is repaired, water pressure increases causing ruptures in other places.

This data is based on perceptions of visitors of the Numbeo website in the past 3 years


Guanajuato State - Includes San Miguel de Allende

As we narrowed our list, San Miguel was on top of that list. It was actually the recent uptick in crime as 2 drug cartels moved into the city and are currently fighting for turf that caused us to re think our decision. To date there have been 80 murders compared to 20 in 2018.

But, San Miguel has another problem which is equally as concerning...

It is no secret that San Miguel de Allende has a terrible water problem. Local expats were talking about it online prior to our our visit, however we did not know to what extent and just how critical the situation there is.

The rapid growth of cancer in the state seems to be linked to the consumption of water contaminated with arsenic, fluoride and radioactivity.
Wells with arsenic, fluoride and other metals have been detected in Celaya, Irapuato, León, San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, San Luis de la Paz, Doctor Mora, San Diego Unión, Tierra Blanca and San José Iturbide.
Radioactivity can destroy tissues and slowly and silently kill people who drink this water by accumulation. In two years Guanajuato climbed from 14th to fourth place in child cancer cases. 19% of the patients developed leukemia and 4%, bone tumors.

Source: Please read the entire article for the stats

This data is based on perceptions of visitors of the Numbeo website in the past 3 years


Lake Chapala & Ajijic - Jalisco State

Lake Chapala, in imminent danger

The phosphorus of detergents and agrochemicals is, together with nitrogen – the fertilizer’s research – the main cause of the eutrophication that is destroying Lake Chapala. This phenomenon consists of the proliferation of algae, lilies, and weeds that cause high oxygen in the water and the death of the fish, with the consequent degradation of the local biomass.
The state of Jalisco has the second highest rate of kidney failure in the entire world only after Taiwan.
It’s widely known that Lake Chapala is toxic. The Lerma River, which feeds the lake, has been polluted by untreated wastewater for twenty years. This isn’t news and it isn’t an anomaly: an estimated 70% of Mexico’s rivers are open-air sewers, in large part because the government has failed to enforce laws defining what can and cannot be dumped into the water. According to a recent article in the online publication Mexico News Daily, the country “produces 6,700 million cubic meters of wastewater, a figure that will increase to 9,200 million cubic meters by 2030. Only 38 percent of wastewater is currently treated in accordance with regulations.” Elias Cattan, an environmental activist and the founder of a Mexico City–based architectural firm, tells me, “What you have is government in collusion with industry.”
By industry, he means the nearly 9,000 companies with facilities along the Lerma River, including Coca-Cola, Nissan, and Bimbo, Mexico’s largest bread company. “Businesses invest millions in pretending to have treatment systems,” Cattan tells me. “They prefer to fake it than to actually pay for good treatment systems. They prefer an easy fix. So what’s happening in this country is we’re killing people with our rivers. There’s no accountability.”
Air, soil, and water pollution have been linked to risks for cancer, heart disease, lung disease, shortened life, and infections. There hasn’t been much information about how pollution increases the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). But what we know shows there’s a connection.

This data is based on perceptions of visitors of the Numbeo website in the past 3 years


Toxic Showers and Baths

Ok so let's say you decide "I'll just drink bottled water" but the toxins are being inhaled while showering or inhaled from the vapors coming off of the lake.

Nobody drinks the water but we all shower in it!

In a new study, researcher Julian Andelman, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, the National Academy of Sciences has shown that volatile chemicals present in many municipal drinking water supplies are especially toxic to people when they are exposed to them when bathing or showering. ". . .the major health threat posed by these water pollutants is far more likely to be from their inhalation as air pollutants in the home, according to preliminary data from a study Andelman and his colleagues have just reported."
In the past, he says, inhalation exposure to water pollutants has largely been ignored." His data indicates that hot showers can liberate between 50 to 80 percent of the dissolved chemicals into the air. Emissions from hot baths are half as high. "(One reason, explains Andelman, is that because water droplets dispersed by a shower head have a larger surface-to volume ratio than water streaming into a bath, more of the volatiles can vaporize out)."

Come back for the scoop on Puerto Vallarta and Oaxaca

382 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page