The aim of the present document is to examine the process of water management within an urban context by exploring the role of technology and culture in the regulation of water services. This study focuses on the scale, perception and operation of hydraulic resources. Water is a basic element in shaping the built environment, therefore I question the performance of public infrastructures related to water and how those are inserted into the different urban scales. In order to provide the research with a particular urban reality I decided to analyse and interpret the Basin of the Valley of Mexico. This valley hosts Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. Throughout the years the lake-nature of this valley has been modified dramatically, ending up with its transformation into a land-base metropolis. This research proposes conceptual strategies concerning the size, legibility and usage of the hydraulic infrastructures of Mexico City.
Regardless of location, the origin of every human settlement has been anchored to water bodies and their management, from coastal cities in Greece and Norway to the finest and complex societies of Mesoamerica. Oceans, rivers, lakes and rain water have modulated the configuration of several urban landscapes. The Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile are among rivers that have earned legendary status, not only for their size and power, but because their waters link our present with the ancient cities and cultures that were originated on their banks.
Water is a basic human need. In July 2010 the United Nations’ General Assembly declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right. The main target of this resolution is to establish a global commitment to offer funding, technology and other resources to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone, with special attention to developing countries.
Water is present in every category related to sustainability; it is indispensable for the human consumption and it is the centre of many social interactions. It is the main source of the Earth’s ecosystems and also the engine of several economic activities.
Water has a major impact on the basic health services in the human settlements due to the fact that sanitation depends on the hydraulic quality and its availability. It is important to mention that while its availability varies on environmental assets such as geographic location and the
hydrologic cycle, the supply and quality of this vital liquid rely on human practices.
Civilisations and religions have acknowledged the ritual aspect of water in the life cycle; therefore this liquid has contributed not only to the physical formation of cities but also to the symbolic articulation of the society. Any meaningful notion of long-term sustainability agendas in the design process of cities must include the management of water at all its levels.
It is widely recognized the association of sustainability to the wellbeing of individuals in the urban and rural populations. However, this wellbeing must be pursued without depleting the natural resources; water is a prime renewable resource. A strong sense of community is an important indicator of sustainability and thus the ecological implications of the social and governmental attitudes towards water have to be tightly monitored in order to combat the irresponsible manipulation of the water resources. In regards of the human-made habitats, the institutions and organizations which operate the hydraulic resources in a city are essential components in the formation of the urban landscapes. Water-related catastrophes such as scarcity and floods are often rooted in the misconception of the waterworks and their immediate influence on the environment. In addition, the current patterns of water consumption are unable to satisfy the global demand required for agriculture, industrial activities and overall, the domestic life.
The aim of this research is to examine the current phenomenon of water management within an urban context by exploring the role of technology and culture in the regulation of water services. This study focuses on the scale, perception and operation of hydraulic resources. Since water is a basic element in shaping the built environment I question the performance of public infrastructures related to water and how those are inserted into the broad gamut of urban dimensions.
In order to provide the research with a particular urban reality I decided to analyse and interpret a unique latitude in terms of its historical and geographical characteristics: the basin of the Valley of Mexico. The Aztec Civilisation emerged on this place between the years 1325 AD to 1521; today it hosts Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. Throughout the years the lakenature of this valley has been modified dramatically, ending up with its transformation into a land-base metropolis dwelled by 21 million people.Finally, this research proposes specific conceptual strategies in two existing water bodies of Mexico City. These proposals are based on the diagnosis developed through these pages, concerning the size, legibility and usage of the hydraulic infrastructures. Many contemporary metropolises are facing similar dilemmas about the management of their water resources. It is estimated that 75% of world’s population will live in cities by 2050 (UN 2004). The flow of people from rural to urban areas demands the construction of a great amount of basic infrastructures, including those for water services. Considering that most of the urban development currently takes place in developing countries, ecological and ethical policies towards water management are pivotal when forecasting the growth of these cities. I am convinced that understanding the paradigmatic situation of the Valley of Mexico will consolidate the inclusion of water in the environmental policies needed to achieve sustainable urban settlements.