The mayor of a Mexican border town says his citizens have no water to drink — because it's all being used to make beer for America. According to a report from the Guardian, the municipality of Zaragoza is experiencing a severe water shortage, leading mayor Leoncio Martínez to send a letter to the Coahuila state governor that read simply, "WE HAVE NO WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION."
Martínez is fingering U.S.-based beer bottler Constellation Brands, which produces Corona and Modelo, as the culprit. To fuel its brewing plant which is located just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the mayor says the company draws 1,200 liters of water per second from local wells.
"It’s contradictory that while Constellation Brands has industrial amounts of water to make beer, the municipality of Zaragoza doesn’t have 100 liters [per second] of water to give people to drink or use in their homes," he told the Guardian. Constellation intends to majorly ramp up its beer production by the end of 2017 in order to keep up with demand, something Martínez fears will make matters worse.
Mayor Martínez claims the problem has been going on for a decade, saying, "[The government] gave them this land and these wells on a silver platter." But a spokesperson for Constellation Brands says the accusations are unequivocally false, issuing the following statement:
Constellation Brands is committed to operating our facilities in a sustainable way in Coahuila (Mexico) and other markets around the world. There have been several, recent erroneous reports about water usage rates at our facility in Coahuila. In 2015, we commissioned an independent study to better understand the environmental impact of our local operations. The study showed that our operations in Coahuila account for less than 1% of the total water extracted from the Allende-Piedras Negras Aquifer. This study also indicated other industries using water from this basin include livestock (84%), urban supply (13%), industrial (2%) and energy generation (1%). Our facility in Nava has one of the best water efficiency rates in the industry, and our wastewater treatment system enables us to reuse about 26% of incoming water. Each of our 2,000 local employees is committed to continuing to do our part to ensure that Constellation remains a good steward of our environment.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira Valdez, also claims Zaragoza's water issues have nothing to do with the brewer, saying the shortage is due to water pipelines that are very old and have a lot of leaks.
Constellation isn't the first beverage company to be accused of irresponsible water usage: Last year Starbucks came under fire for bottling and selling water sourced from one of the worst drought regions in California.