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Mexico City is one of the world's largest cities. Its expanding population, geographical setting and aging infrastructure have put its natural water reserves at risk. Climate change and a growing population are forecast to put further strain on these reserves, making water crises increasingly common. Long term solutions need to look beyond purely technical solutions and integrate social processes into future water management practices.

Socio-hydrology looks at the interactions between  people and water, and provides a holistic platform to better understand the impacts of water management practices. This project has developed a tool for assessing the socio-hydrological resilience of cities, both currently and under various scenarios, allowing users to assess the impact of changing water management practices. Making cities more socio-hydrologically resilient reduces the potential for water crises in the future.  

SHR tool

SHR tool.

The SHR web tool allows users to select a number of different scenarios and assess the impacts on socio-hydrological resilience across Mexico City both now and in the future. The tool also allows users to see the optimal distribution of constructed wetlands across the city for a range of budgets and to see the subsequent impacts on SHR.



The SHI tool was developed through a collaboration of hydrologists, architects, social scientists, engineers and spatial analysis experts. Use the links below to find out more about the development of the SHI tool and its capabilities.  



Current situation.

The social hydrological vulnerability of Mexico City is divided into two main areas. The central and western parts of the city are generally less vulnerable, whilst the eastern, northern and southern neighbourhoods are more vulnerable. In the east and north this lower vulnerability can be attributed to a low adaptive capacity and in the south there is greater stress on water resources.

Impact of constructed wetlands.

Constructed wetlands are a sustainable way to treat wastewater, reducing disease and the need for infrastructure maintenance, whilst improving access to green infrastructure and providing ecological benefit. These impacts reduce water stress and increase the capacity of society to adapt in times of flood or drought. Implementation of constructed wetlands across the city has the potential to decrease the number of vulnerable people by 32% (6 million). Wetlands also have the ability to decrease the number of highly vulnerable people by 0.5 million.

Mexico City in the future. 

A changing climate, increasing population and increased urbanisation all increase the stress on water and other natural resources. By 2050 and with no improvements to water sustainability, our findings show that 4 million people will move from lowest vulnerability. In addition to this, around 70% of the population would be expected to be classified as highly vulnerable. Constructed wetlands are shown to greatly reduce socio-hydrological vulnerability in the future, bringing levels in line with those that we see today.

Although constructed wetlands have the ability reduce socio-hydrological vulnerability across Mexico City, they will need to be combined with other decentralized green infrastructure techniques, such as rain harvesting systems, to reduce vulnerability in the future.

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