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Authorities prepared for summer droughts

June 18, 2012

Although this week saw the beginning of the wet season in metro-area Guadalajara and other parts of Jalisco, including the Lake Chapala area, below average rainfall is forecast for northern Mexico throughout the summer months, according to the National Water Commission (Conagua).

Thanks to preventative measures established last year, there is enough water in Mexico for both human consumption and the next two agricultural cycles, Conagua Director Jose Luis Luege Tamargo announced on Tuesday. Since the beginning of 2011, additional water supplies have been stored in reservoirs for agricultural irrigation use in times of drought, Luege revealed.

Speaking at a forum at Guadalajara’s Autonomous University (UAG), Luege warned that summer droughts could affect much of northern and central Mexico, including northeast Jalisco.

“The forecast for June, July and August is below average. It’s going to rain less than normal, which will worsen the situation,” he said.

The government appears determined to prevent a repeat of the damage caused by droughts in northern Mexico last year. This week the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (Sagarpa) revealed that of the 22 billion pesos released from January to May to counter the effects of drought, 55 percent was delivered in advance to municipalities in the seven worst affected states: Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.

Some parts of Jalisco continue to suffer from last year’s underwhelming wet season. Having lost another two centimeters of water last weekend, Lake Chapala reached its lowest point in five years this week. The lake has a capacity of eight billion cubic meters, but the recent dry spell left it with just 3.7 billion cubic meters of water (47 percent of its capacity) prior to this week’s much needed rains.

On Thursday Conagua reported that Lake Chapala has registered three consecutive days without a drop in level as a result of the onset of the rainy season.  The lake’s level dropped by 1.39 meters in the last ten and a half months.

Rainy season gets underway in metro area

Guadalajara experienced the first storms of the rainy season in the early hours of Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  Reports of flooding, fallen trees, auto accidents, power outages and malfunctioning traffic lights filtered in from across the metropolitan area  in the wake of the storms.

Heavier rains are expected  in the city this year compared to 2011’s lackluster wet season, which was 40 percent drier than average. To lessen the effects of flooding, metro-area water authority Siapa has desilted 85 percent of Guadalajara’s sewers and drains.

Siapa has also identified 67 metro-area sites especially prone to flooding. The points most at risk are Plaza del Sol, the canal on Avenida Patria, Avenida Inglaterra,  Guadalupe and Cordilleras, Ferrocarrileros and Washington, Lazaro Cardenas and Mariano Otero, Colon and Patria, and the Parque Morelos.

Among the most dangerous zones are traffic tunnels, which are seriously prone to flash flooding during storms.  Motorists are advised not to enter tunnels during heavy rains, even if the water level may only seem slight.

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