A huge percentage of water found in Mexico is obtained from the surface. The main sources are lakes or rivers. In spite of the few water resources in many areas in Mexico, there is a high consumption of water in these regions. This is because the tariffs are low and the rates of payment are poor (Reisner, 1992). The year 2006 saw more than 70% of the water utilized for agriculture alone. This is in contrast to less than 15% used for public supply. Moreover, less than 10% of the total water found in Mexico was used in industry and by thermal power station. Furthermore, studies reveal that almost 270 litres of water were used daily domestically by the Mexican population (Margulis, 1992). In Mexico, there are debates over the legislations and management policies that are used to govern natural resources in both the cities and rural areas. These debates are a source of discussions for bringing up policies that are coherent, which can both protect the sustainability of rare water resources in the country and ensure equitable, democratic systems of using water (Gleick, 1993). This paper will respond to three cultural values that are related to water management in Michael Ennis-McMillan’s book, A Precious Liquid.
Michael Ennis-McMillan’s book, A Precious Liquid, give an analysis that is ethnographic. It highlights cultural and social features of setting up and handling a drinking water system that is piped in a society situated in a region that is semiarid and heavily populated. This community is referred to as the La Purificacion Tepetitla. Michael Ennis-McMillan’s work highlights the ways in which the community’s culture and politics design its resourcefulness to establish equitable and efficient supplies for drinking water in the valley of Mexico in an ecological system that is changing. The book draws attention to a research that was concerned with ethnographic field work for a period of 22 months. The duration of the research was between the years 1993 to 2000 (Ennis-McMillan, 2005). In addition, Michael Ennis-McMillan’s book employs the concept of culture to issues concerning drinking water.
The people of La Purificacion Tepetitla have cultural values that are unique. These values come from the beliefs, dreams and information of the manner in which the land was made, how the people were created, the responsibilities and rules of those who head the community, and their ancestors. On the other hand, the moral code of the La Purificacion Tepetitla community instructs and unites the society and the individuals. The traditional managers and traditional owners safeguard the cultural values and laws of the La Purificacion Tepetitla society. Moreover, the community has traditional caretakers or managers and traditional owners who uphold the community’s values and help in the management of the society’s water resources (Ennis-McMillan, 2005). Individuals relate to the community through the established cultural values. Old persons in the La Purificacion Tepetitla community boast of songs, stories, songs, and historical accounts. This facilitates the passing on of this knowledge to generations that are coming up.
Firstly, the value of equity assists the La Purificacion Tepetitla society to manage its water resources effectively. The caretakers or managers of the water resources in the community provide piped water for two hours every day. The cultural value of equity presumes that each and every member of the community fulfills their obligations and duties and also pays water fees. In addition, equity in the community calls for people to provide an amount of labor that is unpaid. Every person is supposed to help in developing water sites that would help to obtain water. The allocation of water is made up of entitlements that are volumetric. The percentage or volume of the piped water is divided among everyone in the community (Ennis-McMillan, 2005). The La Purificacion Tepetitla community necessitates an allocation for the water users to sustain the linked cultural and environmental values and consumption that will support the future of the La Purificacion Tepetitla community.
Secondly, the community has the value of control. The value of control is contained in traditional institutions. The traditional institutions assist the community members of the La Purificacion Tepetitla to manage the community water resources in an effective manner. The institutions have laws that instruct and unite the community and the people. The value of control is based on the understanding and knowledge of the needs, responsibilities, and rules of the community (Ennis-McMillan, 2005). All the community water has community managers who have the duty of taking care of the society’s water resources. Almost everyone in the La Purificacion Tepetitla community is culturally related to one another in a number of ways. The leaders of the La Purificacion Tepetitla community have set up a set of guidelines that help in water resource management in the community. For example, they provide water for a specified period and at a specified amount of money.
Thirdly, there is the cooperation value which is incorporated in the La Purificacion Tepetitla community. The society has an organized labor requirement for operation, repair, and maintenance of the community’s water system. The labor requirement that is coordinated helps the La Purificacion Tepetitla people to steer clear of horrid ways of obtaining water, for example, buying water from urban areas or fetching water from rivers, lakes or any open water source. The cooperation value connects the people with the water resource. The cooperation value ensures that the community looks after and provides an adequate custodianship of the resource. This is perceived to be essential to the survival of the people and conservation of the utilized water. The managers of the water reserves emphasize cooperation among the community members so as to preserve and manage the sources of water found in the region (Ennis-McMillan, 2005). In addition, the managers have the duty to convene people in suitable places for meetings and provide the necessary information needed for water management.
The community’s values have changed as time passes. Not everyone in the community is equally treated in regard to the provision of water. Those who are considered to have more need for the water resource are given preferential treatment as compared to those who need less water. The value of control has been distributed among the people in the community. Everyone in the community has a responsibility to manage the water resource. This is in contrast to earlier times where the responsibility of control lied solely on the resource managers and caretakers. The cooperation value has been enhanced at the ground level. Members of the community cooperate to conserve and effectively utilize the water resources. The values have changed because people have seen the need for their contribution in water management. People have developed the desire to contribute in designing rules for water management because it affects them (Postel, 1992). The value change also helps people to design favorable water management strategies.
Ennis-McMillan, M. (2005). A precious liquid: Drinking water and culture in the valley of Mexico. California: Wadsworth Publishing.
Ennis-McMillan, M. (2005). La Vida del pueblo: Women, equity, and household water management in the valley of Mexico. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press.
Gleick, P. H. (1993). Water in crisis: A guide to the world's freshwater resources. New York: Oxford University Press.
Margulis, S. (1992). Back-of-the envelope estimates of environmental damage costs in Mexico. New York: World Bank.
Postel, S. (1992). Last oasis: Facing water scarcity. New York: Norton and Company.
Reisner, M. (1992). Cadillac desert: The American west and its disappearing water. New York: Penguin Books.