TIJUANA (Border Report) — Baja California’s maquiladora industry and other business leaders say economic growth is being stymied by the lack of water in northwest Mexico, and unless the state can secure more potable water, their businesses will suffer and have a hard time expanding.

“It’s a problem, not just ours, we know our counterparts in the United States are having the same issues if not worse due to the lack of water deliveries to our region,” said Armando Padilla Fitch, president of Baja’s Industrialists Association. “We all survive thanks to water from the Colorado River that flows to Mexicali and is then pumped here, and on top of that, we pay the highest prices for water.”

He said water is essential for bottlers and companies that work with aluminum and other metals, and that everyone needs it for bathroom facilities, and that’s why companies are being urged to upgrade their water storage tanks to ensure enough water supply in times of drought or lack of deliveries.

“Those who can store it have a competitive advantage, if you don’t have it, investment should be made in water lines and pumps,” he said.

Padilla Fitch is also urging state officials to invest in other sources such as desalination plants along the coast.

“I know feasibility studies are happening to see if this might be enough so we don’t have to bring it all the way from the river,” he said. “This will benefit businesses not only in Tijuana but the wine country and Ensenada.”

The state of Baja California’s Public Services Office has announced plans to build a $450 million water reclamation plant as a way to guarantee water to a large portion of Tijuana’s east side, said Victor Daniel Amador Barragán, the agency’s director in Tijuana.

“Water is not a renewable resource, but we can reuse it,” he said, adding that there are plans to remodel the water delivery system in place at the city’s Rodríguez dam, which breaks down often.

“The dam can hold about 10 million cubic meters and we should be delivering and using that water,” he said.

Amador Barragán emphasized the region has the potential to have water consistently and not have to rely solely on water from the Colorado River.

“Baja California is not Nuevo León, we are surrounded by water, there are alternatives that we need to apply and execute.”