MEXICO CITY (AP) – Drought now covers 85 percent of Mexico and residents of the central part of the country said on Thursday that lakes and reservoirs are drying up, including the country’s second-largest freshwater supply.
The Mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years and that the problem could be seen at reservoirs holding water from other states to supply the capital.
Some, such as the Villa Victoria Reservoir west of the capital, are one-third of their normal capacity, taking about a month and a half before rainfall.
Isaías Salgado, 60, is trying to refuel his truck at Villa Victoria, which usually takes just half an hour. On Thursday, he expects three 1/2 hours to pump water into his 10,000-liter tanker.
“The reservoir is drying up,” Salgado said. “If they keep pumping out by May, it will dry completely and the fish will die.”
Mexico Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said as the drought worsened more people would tend to water their lawns and gardens, which made the problem worse.
9 million people in the capital rely on reservoirs like Villa Victoria and two, which together have about 44% capacity for a quarter of their water. Most of the remainder comes from urban wells. But the town’s water table dropped, and the leaking pipes spoiled much of what was brought into town.
Rogelio Angeles Hernandez, 61, has been fishing in the waters of Villa Victoria for the past 30 years.He has been less concerned with his own catch. In the past drought, villagers were able to fish in the wheelbarrow when the water level dropped.
But tourism to reservoirs such as the Valle de Bravo, further west, has been adversely affected by lower water levels.
In the end, it is the capital that will really be in trouble.
“Fishing is the same. But the real impact will be on people in Mexico City, who will receive less water, ”said Angeles Hernandez.
Farther west in the state of Michoacán, the country is at risk of losing its second-largest lake, Lake Kutzeo. About 75% of the lake bed is now dry, said Alberto Gómez-Tagle, a biologist and researcher who chair the Institute of Natural Resources at the University of Michoacán.
Gómez-Tagle said deforestation, roads built across shallow lakes, and water diversion for human use play a role. But three very dry years turned the lake into a dusty plain.
“2019, 2020 and until 2021 were drier than average, and that has a cumulative effect on lakes,” he said.
Michoacan Gov. Silvano Aureoles said most of the lakes had dried up, and coastal communities now face dust storms. He said communities may have to start growing plants on the lakes to prevent the storm.
In a petition to the government, residents of the communities surrounding the lake said only six of the 19 fish that previously existed in Cuitzeo now remain. They say dust storms have caused respiratory and intestinal infections among tens of thousands of residents.