The Official Mexican Standard 001-Semarnat-1996 on the discharge of treated water to the subsoil has not been updated for 25 years.
The Official Mexican Standard 001-Semarnat-1996, which regulates the number of permissible pollutants in the treated waters that are discharged into the subsoil, is 25 years old without updating.
For eight years, Quintana Roo organizations such as Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Healthy Reefs Initiative, and Centinelas del Agua have been promoting a change in this Standard, since the Peninsula is a region more sensitive to pollution. However, to date, it has not materialized.
The National Advisory Committee for the Standardization of the Environment and Natural Resources (Comarnat) is in charge of reviewing and approving the updating of the Standard.
Gonzalo Merediz Alonso, executive director of Amigos de Sian Ka’an, explained that all the work tables have already been concluded, the vote is still missing, which must be called by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
According to Alejandro López Tamayo, director of Centinelas del Agua, the Peninsula is more sensitive to pollution because there is an aquifer a few meters deep, whose rivers are interconnected even with the sea.
In 2017, a modification project was presented, which proposes a stricter treatment.
The current Official Standard allows the discharge of water that comes out of secondary treatment. However, the organizations refer that a tertiary treatment is necessary to reduce the levels of pollutants that are injected into the subsoil.
Making more rigorous wastewater treatment has higher costs for companies, but the conservation of ecosystems for the future is guaranteed, says López Tamayo.
The draft Standard establishes more demanding parameters regarding the permitted amounts of metals such as arsenic, cadmium, cyanide, mercury, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc.
It also considers other measurements such as fats and oils, total suspended solids, chemical oxygen demand, nitrogen, phosphorus, PH, and purity.