Saturday, April 1, 2023

Drought in northern Mexico threatens livelihoods

Drought In Northern Mexico Threatens Livelihoods

Restaurant owner Leticia Rodríguez celebrated the construction late last year of a new lakeside boulevard in this northern Mexican city that she hoped would draw more people to her business. But now, with the La Boca reservoir nearly empty, tourists have stopped coming by boat, water skiing, or just eating.

Rodriguez had to lay off most of her staff in April and now runs the restaurant with her husband and children.

A deepening drought in northern Mexico is not only making daily life difficult for residents, but also, in some cases, threatening their livelihoods.

“The only hope is that it rains,” Rodriguez said. “That even the tail of a hurricane arrives so that the reservoir can be recovered, because that is what is killing us the most.”

Last week, Mexico’s National Water Commission declared a drought emergency, allowing the government to take steps to guarantee the water supply. The country’s Drought Monitor placed almost half the country, nearly all of the northern and central regions, in drought conditions.

The drought is related to the meteorological event known as La Niña, whose effects have intensified with climate change. La Niña is a natural, cyclical cooling of parts of the equatorial Pacific that changes weather patterns around the world. In some areas like northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, that has meant increased drought.

The drying up of the Santiago reservoir is not the only problem in the industrial center of Monterrey, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) to the north.

Another reservoir that feeds the city, Cerro Prieto, is at less than half of 1% of its capacity, basically empty, leaving a third reservoir called El Cuchillo, which is 46% full, said Juan Ignacio Barragán, general director from Monterrey. Water and Sewage Services.

Under normal conditions, 60% of the city’s water comes from reservoirs and the rest from deep and shallow wells and underground water collection tunnels.
In the next two weeks, Barragán said the city plans to expand the use of tanker trucks to bring water to outlying neighborhoods.

To mitigate the worsening of the situation, the industrial and agricultural sectors of the state of Nuevo León agreed to cede a significant amount of their water rights to the state. Still, experts say the next few weeks will be critical. If the usual arrival of the rains at the end of August is delayed, the water restrictions in the city will have to be extended.

Aldo Iván Ramírez, a professor at the engineering faculty of the Technological University of Monterrey, said that while the situation in Monterrey is worrying – it represents 12% of Mexico’s GDP – “it is much worse in other parts of the country.”

The city faced severe drought in 1998 and 2013, but now it’s more complicated because only El Cuchillo still has water, he said.

This year’s water crisis still caught many in the city by surprise. Few houses had tanks to store water. Many people have now taken steps to conserve water.

“I think this crisis has made people think a lot,” Ramírez said. “I would not want a hurricane to come and alleviate this crisis and for everyone to forget about it because that would be the worst thing that could happen to us.”

Back in Santiago, Rodríguez, the restaurant owner, said that before it dried up, hundreds of tourists flocked to the reservoir every weekend.

On a recent day, he pointed across the muddy lake bottom to an abandoned restaurant on the lake where diners used to arrive by boat. It closed earlier this year when the water receded and tourists stopped coming.

“For me this is worse than the pandemic, because at least there were people in the pandemic,” said the 54-year-old from Santiago.

Ducks now waddle in the shallows around the end of the pier where tourists used to board boats for lake cruises.

Sitting in one of the seats on the old floating dock, Juan Perez, 65, said he lost his job along with 60 other people when the company that offered boat tours went bankrupt earlier this year. He now survives by working as a town janitor.

“It’s sad to see it like this… it’s worse than a cemetery,” Pérez said, recalling the festive atmosphere that reigned here on weekends.

Authorities are trying to get as much of the remaining water out of La Boca as possible.

They have installed a floating pump that they hope will extract some 400 liters (105 gallons) of water per second that will be channeled to Monterrey, said engineer Raúl Ramírez, whose company installed the pump. They planned to leave enough water to keep the remaining aquatic life alive.

Standing on the dry bed of a lake that had been covered with water for months, Ramírez said: “They warned us of the possibility that this could happen since last year and unfortunately as a society we did not listen, we did not want to understand. “

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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