Drought has dried up what was Mexico’s second-biggest lake, destroying a once thriving fishing economy in Michoacán.
The scale of the problem? Lake Cuitzeo should have 800 million cubic meters of water, but today it doesn’t even have 200.
Now, the more than 300-square-kilometer reservoir has become a cemetery for fishing boats and a shortcut for motorists to reach Morelia, the state capital of Michoacán.
The water disappearance also creates frequent and prolonged dust clouds that sometimes reach nearby communities, affecting health of residents, as well as causing allergies, respiratory illnesses and gastrointestinal complications from the bacteria they transport.
Lake Cuitzeo collapse
Everything has started back in 1941, when the governement constructed the Cointzio dam, leading to the disappearance of more than two-thirds of the lake’s water.
Then the building of two highways 30 years ago split the lake into three parts.
More destruction factors are:
- increased water demand
- waste from nearby giant pig farms and industries.
Meanwhile, federal authorities have not intervened. leading to the collapse of the fishing industry. According to official estimates, fishing yields just 5% of what it used to in the 1990s. Moreover, from the 19 species of fish documented in 1975, only six remain.
The collapse of the fishing industry has caused a surge in migration to the United States.
In summary, drought, pollution and deforestation led Lake Cuitzeo, the second-largest in Mexico, to the verge of devastation. Lack of rain deprived the whole area’s wildlife and population of water. Locals say it affects their lives tremendously, not having a place to fish or a way for their cattle to drink. [Mexico News Daily]
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