Background Gradient

Mexico

Mexico is a country located in North America and a population of over 126 million people. Its variable climate, as well as its mountain ranges and volcanoes divide the country into three main climatic regions. The north, which is mostly desert, the centeral plateau, characterized by temperate climates and the south with tropical climates and greater precipitation. Its diversity of climates, accelerated urbanization and the intensification of industrial activities have made Mexico one of the countries with the most water stress in the region. This creates multiple challenges regarding water and sanitation management.

A rich source of information for measuring the current state of access to water and sanitation are household surveys. Throughout Latin America and the Carribean, household surveys provide us with representative data of the countries' population, validated by statistical institutes, which allow cross-checking with other social statistics such as area, income, and gender breakdowns.

This page relies heavily on the 2020 National Household Income and Expenditure Survey, which surveyed 89,006 representative households. It collects some water and sanitation related data in accordance with the WHO / UNICEF guidelines; however, it does not allow for correct differentiation between the categories of improved non-piped water or type of sanitation facility.

For more information on why OLAS uses household surveys, click here.

Data sources:
Methodology:

Progress Towards Measuring SDG 6

Sociodemography

Access to water and sanitation in Mexico varies significantly between urban and rural areas, with urban households enjoying much higher access rates. Approximately 25% of Mexicans live in rural areas.

Inequality in Mexico is evident when viewing the income quintiles of the country’s 2020 household survey. Each quintile represents 20% of Mexican households, with the 1st quintile representing the lowest per capita income, and the 5th representing the highest per capita income. Income inequality is a challenge in Mexico, as the average income of the top quintile is 11.9 times higher than that of the bottom quintile.

Average monthly household income by quintile in local currency

Population

Urbanization rate

Rural

Urban

Water access

Water access

Most Mexicans live in urban areas that have higher rates of access to piped water sources. Mexicans who live in rural communities face more difficulties, especially with obtaining piped water in their homes – only 42% of rural households have piped water in their homes, in comparison with 85% of urban households. In turn, households with higher incomes in general have higher rates of access to water from a piped source to the home in both rural and urban areas. Only 65% of the lowest income quintile in urban areas have piped water in their homes, in comparison with 96% of the richest income quintile.

Split data by:

Water Access Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows water access data broken down by community, income quintile, location of water access, and continuity of water access. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Sanitation Access

Sanitation Access

Mexico generally has high rates of access to sanitation, but sanitation access remains a challenge in rural areas. While 98% of urban homes have sewers or septic tanks, only 84% of rural homes do. 4% of rural households do not have sanitary facilities.

Split data by:

Sanitation Data by Quintile and Access Area

The above sankey diagram shows sanitation access data broken down by community, income quintile, and type of facility. When hovering over the diagram, the number displayed shows the ratio of respondents that fit into the category on the right that come from the category on the left.

Water Resources

Water Resources

Water Availability

Mexico is divided into 757 hydrological basins, of which 649 are hydrologically available while 108 are negative or in deficit. Annually, Mexico receives approximately 1,449 km3 of water in the form of precipitation; it is estimated that 72.1% is evapotranspired and returns to the atmosphere, 21.4% runs off through rivers and streams, and the remaining 6.4% infiltrates and recharges aquifers.

The country gets 39.1% of its total consessioned water for consumptive use from groundwater. For groundwater management purposes, the country has been divided into 653 aquifers, of which 205 are in hydrological deficit.

Water Stress

At the national level, Mexico experiences high water stress. Out of 653 aquifers in the country and 731 hydrological basins, 105 are overexploited and 104 present availability problems. Climate change promises to exacerbate these issues through disruption of normal climatic patterns. This would result in risks to the quantity and quality of water available to society.

Wastewater Treatment

As of December 2018, Mexico had 2,540 wastewater treatment plants in operation, with an installed capacity of 181.2 m3/sec and a treated flow of 137.7 m3/sec, reaching a treatment coverage of 64%. The most widely used treatment process in the country is the stabilization lagoon, applied in 774 plants (30.5%). It is followed by activated sludge, applied in 725 plants (28.5%), and in third place is the upflow anaerobic reactor with 133 plants, which is used in 5.2% of plants.

Water and Sanitation Management

Water and Sanitation Management

Institutional Framework

In Mexico, the National Water Commission, Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA) is the administrative, regulatory, technical, and consultative body whose mission is to preserve national waters and guarantee water security. CONAGUA works in coordination with more than 30 entities at the federal, state and municipal levels, as well as associations of users, companies and institutions of the private and social sector.

Constitutionally, the responsibility for the provision of drinking water, sewerage and sanitation services corresponds to the municipalities, which generally have operating agencies to carry out this function.

Regulatory Framework

Mexico has a legal framework with respect to water management at the federal and state levels. At the federal level, the main regulations are contained in:

  • the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917 (as reformed)
  • The National Water Law (LAN)
  • The Federal Law of Rights in National Water Matters
  • Federal Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection.

At the state level, regulations include:

  • State Constitutions
  • State Water Laws
  • Municipal Organic Laws

Development Programs and Plans

Mexico has the following water and sanitation sector plans and programs aimed at increasing access and quality of services:

  • Potable Water, Sewerage and Sanitation Program (PROAGUA)

Development objectives are established in:

  • the National Water Program (PNH) 2019-2024
  • the National Development Plan 2019-2024
  • Sectoral Program for the Environment and Natural Resources (Promarnat) 2020-2024

Related Resources

National Water Information System (SINA)

It is the institutional system of the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), managed by the Water Administration General Subdirection, through the Water Planning Management. The SINA integrates and publishes statistical and geographic information on the water sector with information from different areas of CONAGUA and other institutions. It has national, state and regional technical data sheets containing the main indicators of the water sector.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals Information System (SIODS)

The Sustainable Development Goals Information System (SIODS) is a tool developed jointly by the National Digital Strategy Coordination of the Presidency of the Republic and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), and makes available to users information on progress in monitoring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Mexico adopted as a State commitment. The data shown here are official and, therefore, should be used for the design of public policies, as well as for international reports submitted by the country.