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Chapala water level continues steady recovery

September 26, 2013


Replenished by heavy rainfall, Lake Chapala has gained enough water in the last two weeks to supply the Guadalajara metropolitan area for almost a year and a half.

From September 9 to 24, the water level rose by 26 centimeters, equivalent to 260 million cubic meters of water, the National Water Commission (Conagua) reported. Guadalajara draws 180 million cubic meters a year (60 percent of its water supply) from Chapala, meaning the last 15 days of rain would be sufficient to supply the metropolitan area for just over 17 months.

The lake has now risen by 65 centimeters since the rainy season began, although this is still not nearly enough to compensate for the 1.45 meters that the water level fell during the last drought. At 43 percent of its capacity as of Thursday, Chapala is currently gaining over 200 cubic meters per second from the Lerma and Zula rivers.

The recent rainfall proved sufficient to overwhelm the Buenavista dam in the municipality of Villa Corona, which began to leak on Tuesday, causing authorities to evacuate the local population. The leak has since been plugged and the risk to the community has declined, although the authorities remain on alert.

“The dam that was damaged this afternoon, this rupture has not worsened, and it is not losing an extraordinary amount of liquid,” Trinidad Lopez Rivas, head of the State Civil Protection agency, said on Tuesday. The dam remains at just 50 percent of its capacity, Lopez explained, but the leak occurred when the floodgates were damaged.

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