Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Water situation is critical in 4 states: Conagua

Drought is affecting over 90% of the territory of four northern states, a situation the National Water Commission (Conagua) classifies as critical.

According to Conagua’s most recent “drought monitor” report, Sonora, Baja California, Coahuila and Chihuahua face critical situations.

All but 0.1% of Sonora’s territory is affected by some level of drought. Just under half the land area – 49.3% – is affected by severe drought, 32.9% is affected by moderate drought and 17.7% by extreme drought. The 0.1% of territory not affected is abnormally dry, according to Conagua, which declared a drought emergency last week.

Baja California is in a similar situation with 99.7% of its territory affected by drought, while 95.8% of Coahuila is in drought. In the latter state, 5.5% of the land area is affected by exceptional drought, the worst level. Chihuahua also classifies for Conagua’s critical category with 90.1% of territory affected by drought, including 4.1% in the exceptional drought bracket.

Northern states have been hit the hardest, as can be seen on Conagua's most recent drought monitor map.
Northern states have been hit the hardest, as can be seen on Conagua’s most recent drought monitor map. Conagua

Conagua’s report, which considered data up to June 30, said that 47.5% of national territory is affected by drought ranging from moderate to exceptional. The commission’s drought monitor map shows that drought conditions are concentrated in the north of the country, while several southern and southeastern states are drought-free or very close to that status.

Related to the La Niña climate pattern, the lack of rainfall is also reflected by the scarcity of water in dams. The newspaper El País reported Monday that Mexico’s 210 main dams are only 45% full on average, a level that is 10% lower than normal. Some dams are completely dry or close to it.

Another northern state plagued by a lack of water is Nuevo León, where 41.6% of territory is affected by drought and an additional 53.1% is abnormally dry. The water shortage prompted authorities to take the decision last month to limit access to water to just six hours per day in the metropolitan area of Monterrey.

A plan to increase water supply in the state capital hit a snag on the weekend when residents of the municipality of Allende set fire to pipes that were to be used to divert water from the Ramos River. Some 18 pipes were set alight early Saturday by residents who disagreed with the state government’s plan to extract 500 liters per second from the river, which runs through a citrus fruit-growing region.

Locals opposed to a plan to divert water in their area to Monterrey burned the pipes that were to be used in the project.

People opposed to the plan also shut down a highway in Allende for two hours Saturday morning. They only agreed to lift their blockade when Mayor Patricia Salazar pledged to discuss the project with state authorities.

With reports from El País and Excélsior

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