Making groundwater use environmentally sustainable

Project description

Title: Aguas Firmes: Sustainable water management for the Calera and Apan aquifers
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mexico
Counterpart: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), through Grupo Modelo​​​​​​​
Overall term​​​​​​​: 2021 bis 2024

Irrigation technology in Calera, Zacatecas


Mexico has more than 635 areas with rocky soil through which water flows (aquifers), 115 of which are intensively used. About 60 per cent of the total water consumed comes from overused aquifers.

Groundwater plays an important role in the social and economic development of Mexico – as in Calera in the Zacatecas Region and Apan in the Hidalgo Region. The company Grupo Modelo has two breweries there that produce more than half of the beer in the country and employ around 5,500 people. In Calera, in particular, there is a groundwater deficit, with more water being taken out than naturally accumulates again. Ninety per cent of water extracted is intended for agricultural purposes. In Apan, 55 per cent of the water licensed from 1995 to 2020 was intended for industrial use and 21 per cent for urban use (source: CONAGUA – Official Register of Water Rights). Agriculture is dependent on rainwater and is under great pressure due to rising temperatures and droughts.


Groundwater is used in an environmentally friendly way and more rain collects in the aquifers in Calera and Apan.

Block-type dams in Apan, Hidalgo


Together with Grupo Modelo, the project focuses in particular on fostering the transition to highly efficient irrigation systems, the financial inclusion of farmers and environmentally sound agricultural practices. In addition, nature-based solutions are to be adopted to enable more water to penetrate the soil and feed the aquifers. For this purpose, the project continuously monitors the level of groundwater.

The project is also supporting local governance by involving various stakeholders in discussions. The goal is to introduce water management and spatial planning instruments. By involving strategic partners, the project aims to anchor the topic on the agenda of those responsible.

Last update: June 2022

A group of farmers gather together in a field in Apan, Hidalgo

Additional information