Thursday, December 7, 2023

Drought affecting 66% of country after rainfall down 19% this year

Two-thirds of Mexico’s territory is in drought after almost 20% less rain than normal fell between January 1 and September 15, National Water Commission (Conagua) officials said on Tuesday.

Francisco Javier Aparicio Mijares, Conagua’s chief of engineering and binational water issues, told attendees at a meeting of the Droughts and Floods Inter-Secretarial Commission that 66.6% of the country was experiencing drought of varying degrees of severity at the end of August.

Six municipalities in the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz are currently afflicted by the worst drought conditions in the country, according to the drought monitor operated by the National Meteorological Service (SMN), a Conagua department.

SMN chief Jorge Zavala said that rainfall was down 19.3% in the first eight and a half months of the year in comparison with average levels, adding that drought conditions were exacerbated by record-breaking temperatures in August.

The SMN reported this week that the average nationwide temperature in August was 27 C, 3.3 degrees higher than normal.

drought map
Worst affected areas are shown in brown (exceptional conditions) and in red (extreme).

For his part, Conagua surface water chief Alfredo Ocón said that water levels in Mexico’s 206 primary reservoirs are on average 16% lower than is normally the case at this time of year.

During August and the first half of September, rainfall capture in 13 of the country’s 20 largest dams was more than 10% lower than average, he said.

Víctor Alcocer Yamanaka, a Conagua deputy director, said the deficit in Mexico’s main reservoirs added up to more than 13 million cubic meters of water, which he explained was the worst shortfall in the last five years.

He described the situation as “worrying” but added that water-saving measures are being implemented at a local level depending on the severity of the conditions faced.

Distribution via the massive Cutzamala system, which supplies water to Mexico City and parts of México state, has been reduced by 10% since September 12, Alcocer said.

He added that almost 102 million liters of water was trucked into 11 municipalities in Campeche, Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora and Veracruz between September 10 and 16 in order to alleviate pressure on depleted local reservoirs.

Since the new federal government took office last December, Conagua tanker trucks have supplied water to 33 drought-affected municipalities in 12 states, the deputy director said.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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