MEXICALI, Mexico – Plans by multinational beer producer and marketer Constellation Brands to build a brewery in the northwestern Mexican city of Mexicali have sparked protests among the population, who say there is not enough water to supply the company.
According to the alcoholic beverage giant – which will allegedly employ as many as 750 locals – the border capital of the state of Baja California is ideal for its plans to produce beer at low cost for export to the US.
To that end, on October 20, 2015, the multinational – which produces beers such as Corona and Pacifico – signed a contract with Mexicali’s State Public Utilities Commission to purchase 20 million cubic meters (5.3 billion gallons) of water a year.
“It is a very large volume (of water), compared to the 100 million cubic meters (26.4 billion gallons) the whole city of Mexicali consumes every year,” Javier Guadalupe, a member of Mexicali Resiste – a movement comprised of various social causes – told EFE, adding that he is doubtful about the company’s claimed job-creation figures.
Temperatures in Mexicali reach nearly 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in the summer and the region sees only 16 days of rain a year, which causes “severe to extreme droughts,” as per official figures from the National Weather Service (SMN).
Also, a 2015 report by the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) said that the “(water) volume is not sufficient to accommodate new concessions in the Mexicali Valley aquifer.”
Despite this, local government officials continued to endorse the construction of the brewery – which is set to be finished in five years – said the Mexicali Resiste spokesman.
The brewery will receive water from the region’s aquifer, the exploitation rights to which it will have to buy from local farmers, but the contract signed with the authorities also entitles the company to draw from the city’s public water network.
Two years ago, the former mayor of Zaragoza, in Coahuila state, accused another Constellation Brands brewery of sucking up so much water that it left his town without drinking water.
Company spokeswoman Nina Mayagoitia told EFE that access by the company to the city’s water supply system will be the same as for “any other user.”