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Chihuahua, Mexico


Location: Chihuahua, Mexico

City Websites: City Homepage (In Spanish)

Key Sustainability Challenges:

  • The primary challenge is urban sprawl and heavy reliance on private automobiles for transportation. There is heavy street congestion throughout the city (the city is in an area of about 16,500 ha). While there is only a population of 700,000 people, there are more than 400,000 cars. A total of around 40 percent of the total area is for vehicle use (streets, parking and road bridges).
  • The city lacks efficient and effective public transportation.
  • There is continuous population growth from emigration from other areas of the State of Chihuahua.
  • There are few, if any, restrictions on new development.
  • There are very few public spaces (parks, plazas, pedestrian walkways)

Strategic Planning Initiatives


IMPLAN (the municipal organization responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of all urban plans and programs in the city) is developing several strategies to integrate the social, economic and environmental elements of sustainability, in the long-term planning and implementation process. In 2007, they completed the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, which is considered to be leading mobility plan in the country for its comprehensive approach. The Mobility Plan was developed with the objectives of: developing solutions to traffic problems through an optimum use of the existing network, diminishing pollution, increase usership of public transportation services, developing more public spaces, among other elements. The Plan follows some of the criteria required by Local Agenda 21 and it has the support of the new City Urban Development Strategy and Plan.

Urban Development Plan

The city is developing a comprehensive Urban Development Plan that will be integrated with the Mobility Plan. The Urban Development Plan is using a long-term horizon of 30-years.

Sacramento Protection Project

The city is working on the protection of the Sacramento River and the Sacramento Mountains, to modify a project that intended to build a major urban artery on both sides of the river. The final project, which is now under construction, has conserved land on the east bank and adapted the design to build the artery only on the west bank.

City Centre Revitalization

The city is also implementing a City Centre Revitalization Plan. Already more than 38 commercial building have been restored.

Environmental Action Plan

IMPLAN has completed a diagnosis of the urban environment that will guide future actions of the Environmental Action Plan. They have a current Water Management Plan, which was developed by doing public consultations and working with international experts.

“What if”

IMPLAN is using a program called “What if”, which uses GPS information to explore future scenarios of the city, by doing projections on the use of land, population growth, housing and employment. The “What if” program generates different maps and graphs, that are easy to understand and manipulate.




Water management in this area has been a problem since colonial times. The city is located in one of the most arid regions in the world, and rain falls only occur in the summer. The city receives its water from three aquifers, one within city limits and the other two lie outside the city. There are more than 100 deep wells throughout the city, but the city draws more water than is replaced on a yearly basis, which is causing the water level in the aquifers to drop. About 95% of the population has access to drinking water, and uses a total of 110 million cubic metres of water per year.

Wastewater from domestic sources flows into two treatment plants (Planta Norte is the secondary plan and the Planta Sur is the primary plant). Since Planta Sur began operations in 2006, this increased wastewater treatment from 48% (about 33,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day) to 99%. Treated water is used to water public parks, gardens, golf courses, and in the manufacturing and construction industries. The pipeline network will be expanded by an additional 80 kilometres (totalling 172kms) to supply the northern part of the city, now that Planta Sur is operational. Planta Norte will eventually be upgraded to a tertiary treatment plant.

Air Quality

In 1997, The Chihuahua State legislature approved a measure for mandatory emissions testing of automobiles in order to combat air pollution, at which time 40 inspection stations were opened. In order to accomplish inspections and enforcement, a mobile monitoring system was installed. The system is composed of a mobile trailer equipped with a high performance computer, and two laser based detection plates. The trailer is located on a roadway and checks passing cars.


Chihuahua’s Landfill has a capacity of approximately 6.5 million metric tonnes of municipal solid waste. The area opened in 1994 and is anticipated to close in 2013. Currently, the landfill is filling at a rate of about 390,000 tonnes per year. The Landfill does not have an existing active landfill gas collection and control system, but does have a series of existing passive vents. In 2004, Mexico passed standards for the design, construction, operation, monitoring, and closure of solid waste landfills, which also provided guidelines and procedures for landfill gas control.


Energy supply is critical to the city due to its location along the US-Mexican border. There is strong potential for solar power implementation. However, the city is mostly dependent on oil and gas.

Green Spaces

Chihuahua’s Central Park is called “El Palomar", and has a collection of monuments depicting three doves and a monumental spear flag. Another important square in the downtown area has fountains, green spaces and a collection of monuments showing local heroes. The main monument in the "Plaza mayor" is the "Ángel de la Libertad" which was built in 2003, representing the freedom of all Mexicans specially Chihuahua's people.


The capital city of the State of Chihuahua is Chihuahua City - originally named San Felipe de Real de Chihuahua, and today affectionately called the "Lady of the Desert", the city was founded in 1709 by Antonio Deza y Ulloa, a Spanish explorer. The city is strategically located at the intersection of the Chuviscar and Sacramento rivers. It was also the midpoint between the Río Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande) and the former mining city of Hidalgo del Parral. In 1810, Don Miguel Hidalgo fled to Chihuahua where he was eventually executed for initiating Mexico's fight for independence from Spain. The city’s name was changed in 1824 to Chihuahua, a Nahualt word which means "dry sandy place."

As in other parts of northern Mexico, Roman Catholic missionaries had an important influence during the colonial era, and the city became a meeting point for missionaries heading to and from the 'sierra' (highlands) region. The city was involved in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917), at times serving an operations base for the División del Norte, the army led by Pancho Villa. Until the establishment of foreign manufacturing plants in the 1970s, the city was solely a trade post for cattle and agricultural products such as apples and lumber. It is now a charming mixture of colonial architecture and modern industry.


Chihuahua is the twelfth largest city in Mexico, and one of the most industrialized. Manufacturing is very important and there are nine major industrial parks and 79 maquila manufacturing plants, which employ about 45,000 people. The city serves as an alternative destination for maquiladora operators who require quick access to the border but wish to avoid both the higher costs and higher turnover rates of employment of the immediate border area. Of all interior (non-border) locations in Mexico, Chihuahua has the largest maquiladora presence in Mexico. Some of the larger companies include Ford Motor Co., Sumitomo Electrical, John Deere, Hallmark, and LG Electronics.

The entire state of Chihuahua is a thriving economic center. Chihuahua's annual Gross State Product (GSP) is about $6.2 billion, or about 2.9% of Mexico's total GNP. There are more than 350 established manufacturing and assembly plants in the state; manufacturing accounts for a third of the total GSP, while trade and other services amount to 53.5%. Agricultural production makes up only 6% of the total GSP. Chihuahua has the largest amount of forested land in all of Mexico. Forty-four percent of Chihuahua's workers are employed in commerce and services, while a little over a third of the workforce is employed in mining and industry. In mining, the State is the leading producer of non-ferrous minerals and zinc, and is second nationwide in extracting silver. The state is the leading producer of apples and nuts and second in pine and oak trees nationwide. The state is also the nation's leader in raising cattle and sheep.


  • City Population: 719,000 / Metro Population: 856,000
  • Growth Rate of Chihuahua (2000-5): 2.4%
  • Population demographics:
    • 0-14: 35%
    • 15-64: 60%
    • 65+: 5%
  • Density: 4358/km²
  • % of provincial population: 23%
  • Life Expectancy
    • National average (2005 est.): F 78 / M 72
    • Birth Rate (National): 21.01 /1000
    • Death rate (National): 4.73 /1000


  • Area: 165 km²
  • Latitude: 28 °63’ N
  • Longitude: 106°08' W
  • Altitude: 1415m
  • Situated at the intersection of the Chuviscar and Sacramento rivers, in the centre of Chihuahua State and about 150 km south of the US border.

Information Sources

Air Quality

Economy I | Economy II


History I | History II

Water I | Water II


Mean temperature (Jan/July): 12/ 26°C

Precipitation (Jan/July/Total): 0.3/ 100 / 387mm

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