Resilience Under New Water Regimes: The Case of Monterrey, [MX] Day-Zero

Globally, the world is experiencing a period of unprecedented drought, the worst in 1200 years according to NASA. With rising global average temperatures, water is evaporating at high rates, with cities around the world, including in Monterrey in northern Mexico, coming dangerously close to reaching sustained Day-Zero scenarios where millions of taps could run dry. While drawing on global trends and discussions, this research seminar will use Monterrey’s water crisis as a paradigmatic example where the drought is exacerbated by extreme resource depletion and policies facilitating socio-economic and territorial desiccation, both embedded within widespread pro-growth logics.

Monterrey is a dry-climate city of five million, where challenges in governance and infrastructure have led to a long-brewing crisis that has now been pushed to the brink by six years of decreased rainfall patterns triggered by La Niña. Some citizens are receiving only two hours of water per day, while others rely on water distribution trucks. Industry has largely been allowed to continue extracting water from the aquifer. But the reality is more complex than a “good citizenry” vs. “bad industry” narrative. Through readings, writings and/or mapping exercises, we will examine the many forces that are contributing to water crisis in Monterrey, (MX), and study different initiatives that–in the fields of landscape architecture, architecture, urban planning and design—are trying to foster wetness in water-scarce and desiccated territories.

The course is open to students in all programs at the GSD, with the hope that a transdisciplinary dialogue will foster more innovative strategies toward water resilience across scales. The class will meet once a week, structured around a visiting speaker, readings, and discussion on a range of selected topics intended to generate new knowledge as well as critical questions about a future with more uncertain regimes of water.