Water, garbage, sewage and roads. They are the infrastructure fabric that binds most communities. When they aren’t working, they are what can unravel a town.
The growth in the Todos Santos-Pescadero areas is straining what was built for a smaller population. On Feb. 22 the nonprofit Asociación de Colonos de Todos Santos, aka ACTS, hosted a 2.5 hour meeting with infrastructure the only topic.
Jamie Stephens spoke about water, Susan Mittelstadt about sewage and landfill concerns, Walt Schultz tackled roads, Alex Miro recycling, and Bryan Jauregui plastics. Each gave an overview of their topic. Then the more than 100 people who gathered split into groups to discuss one of the above topics before reconvening to share thoughts with everyone.
Vickie Butler, ACTS vice president, said, “If we don’t start now, it will get worse. The intention after this meeting is there will be positive movement.”
Unlike a lot of municipalities in the United States where people who build have to pay developer fees, Todos Santos doesn’t have anything like that. Those developer fees are intended to pay for impacts to the environment, for roads, fire stations, schools and more. While Todos Santos is its own city, the funding comes from La Paz, the state capital of Baja California Sur. At the meeting it was stated that more funding from La Paz is not likely to be forthcoming, so solutions need to come from the citizenry – locals and expats.
It was stated how many of the problems are the result of more non-Mexicans moving to the area and the influx of tourists. They are putting a strain on the fragile infrastructure.
Taxes don’t cover the needs and government corruption then siphons some of those precious dollars.
- Inequities exist between who pays what based on some people being on meters. The town ran out of meters around 2006 so no more have been installed.
- Some people get water every day and others weekly. Those living farther away from downtown Todos Santos have less frequent deliveries.
- Various levels of government don’t appear to be communicating with one another.
- It was suggested a citizen water committee be formed that would voice concerns to people who could do something.
- A 2012 study said Todos Santos would have enough water to last through 2022.
- A new study by Conagua, the national water authority, was suggested in order to learn what the water forecast is going forward, especially with the growth taking place.
- New water contracts are only being issued to properties with existing infrastructure on the land.
- Pools are supposed to be filled with water trucks, but people use city water.
- Baja Water Systems is working with restaurants to get filtration systems in so fewer plastic water bottles need to be used.
- Several “treacherous” landfill fires occurred in 2019 at the Todos Santos-Pescadero dump. They are a public health threat.
- Fundraising has allowed for a tractor to be leased to help with the fires and move material around to prevent spontaneous combustion.
- About 80 percent of the matter is organic waste, with most of that being garden debris.
- People want the area to become zero waste, with an organization formed to achieve that goal.
- Recycling needs to be encouraged.
- It is running down the streets in Pescadero.
- Septic trucks are reportedly dumping waste in the desert and not taking it to the treatment plant.
- In Todos Santos sewage is running into La Poza lagoon.
- Reports are the private treatment plant in Todos Santos is at capacity.
- Since the meeting, ACTS reports, “The Ejido of Pescadero has given authorization to lease a piece of land for 30 years to the government to build a new sewage treatment plant with federal funding.”
- The lack of drainage is the main problem on local roads. Water then builds up and ruins the asphalt.
- When adding dirt to a road, a ditch should be added for drainage. There was no talk of what happens when more water goes to the properties downhill.
- People want a guide created on how to properly use dirt and create ditches.
- Punto Verde on the south end of Todos Santos only takes what they know they can recycle: aluminum, tin, paper/cardboard, plastic, clear glass and some electronics. It should all be clean. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-2pm. A small fee is charged to collect the recyclables.
- Glass blowing companies will take colored glass.