Derek Newberry

Finding Lasting Solutions to Mexico’s Environmental Challenges

ecocretoFirst of all, a big pat on the back for Ecocreto gaining recognition for its work on NPR recently. Secondly, a disclaimer: As I write this posting about water conservation issues in Mexico City, I realize that not too long ago, I also discussed the City’s air quality problem. I feel bad picking on Mexico, home to one of the greatest places on Earth, but this warrants some attention – besides, the story of Ecocreto is an optimistic note in all of this.

I was reading Joel Makower’s recent post on how water issues could become the next big enviro-development crisis. Though the blog was devoted to how “rich” countries are plagued by unclean water, it reminded me of how someone from Mexico City had commented on my DryWash piece, asking if this waterless carwash service would be available in his area, where people are worried about an impending water shortage and sanitation crisis. Apparently he is not the only one to notice this; one person interviewed in this BBC story laments that “the city was built above a lake, and yet we have no water!”

Clearly, the government needs to begin looking at a number of solutions, but one promising fix that has popped up is the use of permeable concrete, invented by the founders of Ecocreto (I told you there was a happy ending). I was delighted to find that this New Ventures Mexico partner was featured recently on NPR’s “Living on Earth” program. The report details how in the midst of worries about Mexico City’s aquifers draining by 1 meter per year, chemist Jaime Grau inadvertently devised a type of concrete that was strong enough to hold heavy traffic loads, yet could allow four inches of water per minute to pass through.

As Mexico City grows and develops, creating new roads and repaving others, Ecocreto offers a revolutionary new way to allow rain water to reenter the ground, allowing the reservoirs to be refilled and stopping the urban infrastructure from slowly sinking. A massive overhaul would be costly for the city, but so would having more roads crack and buildings lean as the water is sucked out from under them. I especially enjoyed learning about the Ecocreto segment not just to get our outstanding NV enterpreneurs some well-deserved exposure, but because it shows that small businesses have a great capacity to solve major problems through the innovative tendencies and flexibility inherent in them. Be sure to check out the full NPR piece here, or visit the company’s website. It makes me wonder- with Ecocreto tackling water problems and Vehizero fighting Mexico City’s infamous air pollution, when do we get services like that operating in DC?