"As drought grips cities like Monterrey, people queue with buckets for brackish water. But Coca-Cola and other firms are still extracting groundwater".
"The water truck parks on a block, a 10-minute walk uphill from Rocio Vega Morales’ house, for 15 minutes at most. She has no clue what time the pipa will arrive in her neighbourhood, delivering the water she and her four children need to bathe, wash dishes and flush the toilet. It could be while she is at work, or in the middle of the night.
The drought in North Mexico means taps are dry in the city of Monterrey so pipas, primarily run by the city authority, are the only way to deliver water to homes and businesses. As people who cannot afford bottled water are drinking the brackish water from the trucks, anger is growing here that beverage companies with bottling plants here, including Coca Cola and Heineken, are extracting billions of litres of water from public reservoirs.
Several brewers and soft drinks companies have factories in the city, and these use nearly 90bn litres a year in total, and over half of that – nearly 50bn litres a year (or 50m cubic metres) – is water from public reservoirs.
Vega Morales lives in a low-income area in Monterrey; one of Mexico’s largest cities, in the state of Nuevo León, it has a population of more than five million. There has been no running water in homes for over a month.
Most trucks do not carry drinking water – sometimes it is brown or has insects in it. Vega Morales has two 20-litre buckets to fill daily, and uses most of it in the bathroom. “I don’t want to get to the point where we can’t flush the toilets. That’s where I would start to feel really gross,” she says. “The kids don’t understand – it is hardest on them.”"