The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all the grave environmental challenges our age and grown to become super-Green and super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Mexico City.
Mexico City is a place of environmental infamy. Smoggy air shrouds drab tower blocks and rusty factories, pierced only by the occasional glassy skyscraper or cathedral spire.
In Mexico’s capital, extreme wealth and ruinous poverty are intertwined with four million cars and fifty thousand unregulated businesses in a chaotic orchestra of traffic, dirt, and noise. The city sits in a basin surrounded by high mountains, a geographical bowl
that traps the motionless smog and polluted water within it every day. Regular flooding afflicts the city when rainwater runs from the surrounding deforested mountains into the concrete jungle.
The flooding gets worse year by year, since the over-extraction of underground water is leading to the subsidence of the city, sinking it farther below the flood line. Some areas have sunk as much as thirty feet since the city was founded.
The city rests, for the most part, on an extinct lake, Lake Texcoco, which was drained, rechanneled, and filled in during the seventeenth century, then paved over in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
By 2121, however, Lake Texcoco has been slowly rehabilitated to its former aquatic glory, providing for multiple economic and ecological benefits:
-First, it slows the flow of water to a manageable speed, and it soaks up the excesswater to stop flooding.
-Second, it provides an ecological base from which to nurse forest trees and animals that can recolonize the surrounding hills and mountains, which together act to regulate water runoff as well as mitigate the risk of erosion and landslides. The lake also provides for wet and dry community gardening, where by areas are set aside for low-income families to work the land to supplement their food needs.
-Third, the renewed lake also acts as a partial wastewater zone, filtering and recycling the wastewater of some of Mexico City’s twenty million residents.
Besides these benefits, the resurgent lake provides a recreational area for Mexicans to get back to nature right within the heart of their city.