Water scarcity is a critical infrastructure problem in Mexico City, which suffers from one of the highest demands for water of any city in the world, requiring approximately 300 liters per person per day. Due to depleting aquifers, climate change, and surging urbanization, the gap between what residents require and what the city is able to provide has widend. The SIPA Capstone team was tasked with exploring the feasibility of expanding rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems to civic, residential and commercial areas in Benito Juarez.
To assess the unique issues, behaviors, and opinions surrounding water use and RWH of the Municipality’s residents, the team conducted a survey of over 400 households. Despite water scarcity not being a critical issue in Benito Juarez, survey results from a questionnaire revealed residents’ concerns with intermittent water access and high utility prices. Residents responded enthusiastically towards RWH installations in their communities. This presents an opportunity for the Municipality of Benito Juarez to position itself as a leader in environmental sustainability. The Capstone team also conducted a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to systematically appraise the tangible and intangible benefits of RWH against the various economic factors. The CBA consisted of two parts: a break-even analysis to compare costs to benefits and an assessment of possible returns on investment in both conservative and optimistic scenarios. Based on the assumption of water price, water consumption, and installation costs provided by the municipality, the Capstone team found that installation of RWH systems is recommended in the long term for the buildings in their sample.