About 85 percent of Mexico is affected by water scarcity, and residents of the nation’s central region on Thursday said that lakes and reservoirs are drying up, including the country’s second-largest body of fresh water.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that the scarcity was the worst in 30 years, adding that the problem can be seen at the reservoirs that store water from other states to supply the capital.
Some of them, like the Villa Victoria Reservoir west of the capital, are at one-third of their normal capacity, with a more than a month to go before rain is expected.
Isaias Salgado, 60, was trying to fill his water tank truck at Villa Victoria, a task that normally takes him 30 minutes. On Thursday he estimated that it was taking more than three hours to pump water into his 10,000-liter tanker.
“The reservoir is drying up,” Salgado said. “If they keep pumping water out, by May it will be completely dry, and the fish will die.”
Sheinbaum said that as the scarcity worsened, more people have tended to water their lawns and gardens, which worsens the problem.
The capital’s 9 million inhabitants rely on reservoirs like Villa Victoria and two others — which on average are at 44 percent of capacity — for one-quarter of their water, with most of the rest coming from wells within city limits.
However, the city’s water table is dropping, and leaky pipes waste much of what is brought into the city.
Rogelio Angeles Hernandez, 61, has been fishing at Villa Victoria for the past 30 years. He is not so much worried about his own catch.
In dry seasons of the past, residents were able to cart fish off in wheelbarrows as water levels receded, he said.
However, tourism at reservoirs further to the west has been affected by falling water levels.
In the end, it is the capital that is most strongly affected.
“Fishing is the same, but the real impact will be on the people in Mexico City, who are going to get less water,” Angeles Hernandez said.
Farther to the west, in Michoacan state, the country is at risk of losing its second-largest lake.
About 75 percent of Lake Cuitzeo is now dry, said Alberto Gomez-Tagle, a biologist and researcher at the University of Michoacan’s Natural Resources Institute.
Deforestation, roads built across the lake and diversion of water for human use have played a role, but three extremely dry years have left the lake a dusty plain, he said.
Michoacan Governor Silvano Aureoles said that so much of the lake has dried up that shoreline communities now experience dust storms.
The communities might have to start planting vegetation on the lake bed to prevent the storms, Aureoles added.
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