Isla Urbana is a water conservation non-profit based in Mexico City. The city’s water network cannot keep up with the expansion of the metropole, which leaves many families in peripheral neighborhoods without water for days or weeks on end. At the same time, the massive growth causes severe floods during the rainy season, as well as the rapid depletion of the aquifers that lie underneath the city. Isla Urbana has addressed the worsening water crisis by developing affordable, easy-to-install rainwater harvesting systems.
The rainwater harvesting kits utilize the roof area of existing structures to catch the water and take advantage of the fact that many homes in Mexico City have storage cisterns, despite not being connected to formal water systems. The ecotechnology includes some innovative solutions, like Isla Urbana’s first-flush device, the Tlaloque, as well as other techniques to filter the water.
When used and maintained correctly, the systems provide users with, on average, 5 to 8 months of water autonomy per year. To date, Isla Urbana has installed more than 21,000 systems that capture a rough total of 871 million liters of water per year, benefitting around 130,000 people throughout Mexico. The solution increases the beneficiaries’ health and sanitation and saves time, effort, and money that can instead be dedicated to productive, educational, and recreational activities. From an ecological point of view, each liter of rainwater harvested means relief for Mexico City’s dwindling water supply.
The organization does not, however, merely install rainwater harvesting systems; in order to ensure full adoption of the systems, Isla Urbana teams carry out educational workshops and organize events that inspire consciousness around water conservation. In many communities, encouraging the conservation of water is a social change as much as a technological one. From interactive meetings and do-it-yourself pamphlets, to murals and instructional videos, Isla Urbana uses a variety of content to promote the importance of water consciousness, providing a model for how future cities will eventually deal with water crises.
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