RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A drought is scorching Mexico. A report by the National Water Commission (Conagua) shows that 1,295 municipalities in the country suffer from moderate to severe drought, while another 488 have registered an “abnormally dry” situation.
The institution warns that 83.9% of the national territory is hit by this phenomenon, which has intensified in March, aggravated by the decrease in rainfall percentage. Also, several states in the country have registered temperatures above 40ºC, mainly in the normally humid regions of Campeche, Chiapas, Michoacán, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, and Yucatán.
The drought is hitting the country’s northwestern states the hardest, although the main effects are found in regions of Hidalgo, Sinaloa, and Zacatecas. Due to low rainfall and high temperatures, Mexico has recorded 51 forest fires in 15 states, affecting a total of 8,643 hectares, including protected regions such as the Papigochi Flora and Fauna Protection Area, in Coahuila, and the Bajo Río San Juan Natural Resources Protection Area, shared by Coahuila and Nuevo León.
The attention of Conagua authorities is focused on the dams and reservoirs that supply water to Mexicans. The institution has reported that the Cutzamala reservoir system, which quenches the thirst of the inhabitants of the capital and the neighboring State of Mexico, has a supply of 46.2% of the liquid, “a figure lower than the historical average for this date”.
This reservoir system, which is considered one of the largest globally, provides 37% of the water consumed in Mexico City and surrounding areas, a city of more than 21 million inhabitants. Conagua has also reported that 56 of the 210 main reservoirs in the country have between 50% and 75% of water, while 16 are below 50%.
Only one reservoir remains at 100% full. Conagua’s Drought Monitoring reveals that Mexico has registered 26% less rainfall from January 1st to April 4th, which puts the capacity of its dams at risk.
Due to this situation, some communities are already suffering water shortages. The Conagua report shows that due to the low storage of the Elías González Chávez dam reservoir, located in Jalisco, they have had to pump water from nearby lakes and rivers to guarantee the supply to more than 200,000 people affected by the drought.
High temperatures are also giving no respite. The Conagua report shows that the thermometer has exceeded 40 degrees Celsius in traditionally humid regions such as Chiapas, a state surrounded by forests, and Michoacán, Oaxaca Puebla, and Campeche.
The highest temperatures were recorded in Apatzingán, Michoacán, and Del Nayar, Nayarit, with 46.5 degrees Celsius, “surpassing records for the same period”. According to the institution’s report, in Jilotlán de los Dolores, Michoacán, a new record was set, reaching 46 degrees Celsius.
The drought and water shortages, which have lasted for the last two years, have generated tensions in northern regions of the country, such as Chihuahua, where a hundred farmers took control of the La Boquilla dam last September. The farmers clashed with the National Guard, which deployed officers in the area to regain control of the station, a measure that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador justified.
The tension in that area left at least two dead and several wounded, among them five military personnel, after a confrontation between farmers and elements of the National Guard.
Source: El Pais