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Why Mexico City's thirst is causing it to sink

The demand for water in Mexico's capital is draining its underground aquifers - and fueling some of the fastest subsidence rates in the world

MEXICO CITY - On a recent morning, visitors wandered around Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral, Latin America's oldest - and one of its largest. Walking from chamber to chamber, tourists snapped images of dramatic ceiling-high altars, soaring columns and sculptures. But there's another unintended detail that stands out: The cathedral is leaning.

"I do feel the slope now," a visitor said to a friend, walking from a side chamber to the main entry hall.

This sinking, which is known as land subsidence, crops up across the world. While it can be subtle in many places - it pushes land down around an inch or two a year in much of the United States - the rates in Mexico City are some of the highest in the world.


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