Lesson 801 – Tlaloc’s Revenge-Mexico City’s Hydrological Heritage

Mexico City, with a population of 20 million and one of the largest cities in the world, has had significant challenges with its water shortage, both because of its growth and the fact that it’s 7,000 feet above sea level. David Yetman shares the history of water in the area from 500 years ago in the time of the Aztecs to current times when the effects of the shortage have created both environmental and political challenges to the city and its residents.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the causes, effects and history of Mexico City’s water shortage.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places & Environments: B, C, F

Discussion Prompts

  • How would you feel if you lived in a place where you did not have enough water and had to wait for a water delivery? What daily routines might be affected by having no water or limited water?
  • Why do you think this video is called Tlaloc’s revenge? What is the Aztec history involving water and how has it affected Mexico City in contemporary times?
  • Why is the drone more effective for use in this video than a helicopter would be? Explain what factors make it a better option for aerial photos.
  • Do you think the water shortage would be improved if the city’s population was reduced by 25 percent? If so, how might the city reduce its population in a way that is both ethical and equitable? If not, what might be a better idea?

Lesson Activities

  • Create an original drawing, poem or myth that illustrates the importance of water in the daily lives of Mexico City residents. Incorporate at least five details from the video.
  • Create a graphic that lists the causes of the water shortage in Mexico City. For each of these causes, list the effects and then the solutions shared in the video. For each solution, list the consequences, both negative and positive that have occurred as a result of each solution.
  • Research the time period of the Aztecs in Mexico City 500 years ago and their relationship to water. Create a presentation that shows through pictures and facts the importance of water to the Aztecs.
  • Imagine you are the city planner of a city that is expected to have the same water shortage crisis as Mexico City in approximately 5 years. List your ideas of how your city can improve its chances by being proactive and working toward solutions ahead of time. Create a summary to present to city officials that will convince them of the merit of your plan.


  • astonishing
  • chronic
  • dredge
  • hydrological
  • heritage
  • inextricably
  • inventory
  • labyrinth
  • ornamental
  • sinuous


In the Americas Season 8 Lesson Episode 1