Teams of workers from the National Water Commission (Conagua) are working to remove thousands of dead fish from the Madín dam reservoir in Atizapán de Zaragoza, México state. With kayaks and wheelbarrows, the workers spent Friday collecting the stinking carcasses and taking them to be buried away from the water.
As early as August 15, social media users began reporting the massive die-off, sharing videos of densely packed fish writhing in the water and images of their bodies washed up on the shore.
“This is happening at the Madín dam. Two months of bad management of the dam, thousands of fish appear dead! And now the water is gray!” one Twitter user wrote, as she shared photos from the reservoir.
Conagua said that personnel visited the dam on August 20 and 24 to review the damage and take water samples from various areas of the reservoir, including the effluent of a local water treatment plant, in an effort to identify the cause of the deaths. The results of their analyses are expected this week.
Activists and local residents attributed the fish deaths to the low levels of water in the dam.
“Now there are thousands of fish, not hundreds but thousands of fish asphyxiating because the bottom of the dam is filled with organic material and they can’t breathe,” said Miguel Miramontes Lira, the coordinator of the organization Preserva Madín.
Conagua acknowledged that water had recently been released from the dam, contributing to the low water levels. They said the release was standard procedure for the rainy season, and was meant to protect downstream communities from possible high water levels.
Meanwhile, others blamed nearby developers for not complying with environmental standards. The environmental organization Tribuna Urbana said in a Facebook statement that they had reported various polluters for discharging untreated wastewater into the reservoir, but authorities did not take action.