The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) will be responsible for any damage caused by an increase in the quantity of water released from a dam in Chiapas, warned Tabasco Governor Adán Augusto López Hernández on Tuesday.
The governor said he had been notified by the National Water Commission that the National Committee of Large Dams, after being lobbied by the CFE, proposed increasing the quantity of water released from the Peñitas dam to 950 cubic meters per second. Only 600 cubic meters per second have previously been released.
“We urge the CFE and the departments that are members of the National Committee of Large Dams to manage the volumes [of water] in the dam by placing the protection of population centers first,” López said in a Twitter post.
“… The CFE will be responsible for damage and harm that might be caused to the people of Tabasco and their assets,” he wrote.
The governor claimed in early October that there was a “mafia” within the state-owned electricity company linked to past “neoliberal” governments that is really managing Mexico’s dams. The mafia’s water management is detrimental to Tabasco and its residents, López charged.
Parts of the Gulf coast state are currently flooded and releasing more water from the Peñitas dam, located in a Chiapas municipality that borders Tabasco, will result in more water reaching rivers that are already overburdened.
The state capital Villahermosa was inundated in late September and early October due to torrential rains that washed away the belongings of hundreds of families.
Just a few days later heavy rain brought by Tropical Storm Gamma flooded large parts of Tabasco, affecting some 600,000 citizens. Water that was being released from the Peñitas dam at the time only made the flooding worse.
On Tuesday the Tabasco government issued a weather alert, warning Tabasco residents of the risk of more flooding.
It said that rain brought by cold fronts No. 9 and No. 11 and the release of water from the Peñitas dam could cause the Samaria River and its tributaries to burst their banks. As a result, 24 communities in the municipality of Nacajuca are at risk of flooding, the weather alert said.
Some neighborhoods in Villahermosa have been flooded for the past six days due to rain brought by the two cold fronts, the newspaper Milenio said. The army and state Civil Protection personnel helped to evacuate some people from their homes on Tuesday afternoon and night.
Soldiers also built a sandbag wall to protect eastern parts of the capital from a possible overflow of the El Negro Lagoon. Some Villahermosa residents were also working to protect their neighborhoods and homes from possible flooding.
Tropical Storm Eta is expected to dump more water on Tabasco later this week.
Eta, which was 200 kilometers north-northeast of Managua, Nicaragua, at 12:00 p.m. CST, is expected to bring inclement weather to Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca on Thursday and Friday.
Source: Milenio (sp)