GALVESTON, Sept. 26, 2003 – Finding clean, fresh water can often be a problem. If it's Mexico City, with its population of 20 million people and a history as one of the world's most polluted areas, finding drinkable water can be more than just a problem – it can be a matter of life and death.
A Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher is trying to help by conducting an extensive study of one of the lakes that provides 30 percent of the fresh water supply to Mexico City. The results could help the Mexican authorities better manage their water resources and could provide useful information that could be used in other polluted waters around the world, says Ayal Anis, professor of oceanography at Texas A&M-Galveston.
Anis and his research team of students Gaurav Singhal, Keith Dupuis and Newt Scott, studied the Valle de Bravo reservoir located near metropolitan Mexico City. Though the lake provides millions of Mexico City residents with water, it is heavily polluted and shows signs of quick advancement to a state of 'eutrophication,' which means pollution caused by excessive plant nutrients.There are several forms of algae in the lake that are actually toxic, so much so that swimming in the lake is highly discouraged.
"It's an important lake because people depend on it for water, but the water in it is highly polluted and must be filtered and treated before it can be used by humans," Anis explains.
Anis, along with researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, studied the lake for much of this summer and the factors that contribute to its pollution, including meteorological conditions, seasonal changes in the water flow, different layers of the lake from the bottom to the surface, water flowing into the lake, various pollutants and other factors.
The collected data from the study is being analyzed and when completed will be sent to Mexican officials, Anis says. The study is co-funded by Texas A&M and Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia (CONACyT), the Mexican equivalent of the United States' National Science Foundation.
"We hope the results will help the Mexican government solve some pollution problems of its water supply," Anis notes.
"We also hope the study will provide useful information that could be used in other areas of the world that have similar reservoirs that provide drinking water. The ultimate goal is to reduce health hazards, restore environmental quality and if possible, minimize unwanted economic impacts of such polluted bodies of water."
Materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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