Home PlanetYucaEnvironment Cuitzeo, the second-largest lake in Mexico loses 70% of its water

Cuitzeo, the second-largest lake in Mexico loses 70% of its water

by Yucatan Times
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The lake is doomed if action is not taken due to the lack of rain and the pressure exerted by avocado cultivation, farmers warn.

MORELIA, MICHOACAN.- The extinction of Lake Cuitzeo, the second largest in the country, has accelerated. The water level has decreased by 70 percent due to the lack of rain caused by the loss of forests in the surrounding areas to make way for avocado or strawberry fields.

This dry season is the product of three consecutive years of low rainfall, with 2023 as the most critical, which has caused a low level of storage in this body of water that covers 306 square kilometers, says the deputy operational director of the Commission. National Water Authority (Conagua) in the state, Octavio Muñoz Torres.

Cyclically, the lake has “good years” and others where the little rain dries it completely, but the elimination of the forests to plant avocados or strawberries has altered the rainfall. Being a closed basin, he explains, this drying “is nothing more than a reflection of what is happening in the upper and middle part of the hills”, where the aquifer layers should be recharged, but since this does not occur, the water does not drain towards its final destination: Cuitzeo.

He adds that this body of water is more vulnerable to evaporation and drought because the penetration of solar rays is more intense due to its shallow depth.

The municipal president of Cuitzeo, Rosa Elia Milan Pintor, explains that drought occurs every 10 years and the water recovers. However, “this year there was a lack of rain throughout the country,” which complicates the increase in the level. of the water mirror.

But it is not only the drought and lack of rain, this year an intentional burning of tule – an aquatic plant that locals use to make mats and other crafts – in the center of the lake affected at least 50 hectares. This fire is one of many reported in the area, because when one is fought, “they start again somewhere else,” says the head of the Ministry of the Environment (Secma ), Alejandro Méndez López.

In addition to the above, and as happens in Lake Pátzcuaro, in Cuitzeo the residents have begun to appropriate the dry areas, confirms the head of the Secma.

According to the state governor, Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla, through the Forest Guardian surveillance system, it has been detected that the patch of avocado crops continues to expand, even reaching the shores of the lake.

The drying out has impacted the activity of almost a thousand fishermen, who represent 75 percent of the area’s inhabitants, explains the director of the Michoacán Fisheries Commission (Compesca), Ramón Hernández Orozco.

PHOTO: Fernando Maldonado/ El Sol de Morelia

He adds that The producers have had to dedicate themselves to other activities such as masonry in Morelia or the neighboring state of Guanajuato.

According to Hernández Orozco, this region was rich in the production of mosco and charal. There were tons, he says, but on this occasion, since it did not have the necessary depth, these organisms were not cultivated.

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Remember that during the weighing season, choral production represented an income of 10 thousand pesos a week for fish producers.

“Today they are subject to what they are paid elsewhere, with salaries starting at two thousand pesos a week.”

PHOTO: Fernando Maldonado/ El Sol de Morelia

The deputy director of Conagua warns that if the problem is not addressed and if the extraction of water and the expansion of the so-called green gold crops are not stopped, the lake will be more affected and its water level will be lower. Municipal and state representatives agree that if action is not taken, the lake is doomed to extinction.

TYT Newsroom

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