Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lake Chapala February 16

Lake Chapala, Mexico's biggest lake, water level is the highest it has been in decades partly due to an exceptionally rainy season last year. Years ago this area was a childrens's playground but today it is under 4 or 5 feet of water. We have also heard of some homes along the water front that had their pools and tennis courts submerged because of the rise (although there is no sympathy for these people because they weren't suppose to build there in the first place).

There are many problems with Lake Chapala and it's water level and quality. It is polluted from untreated industrial and agricultural runoff causing the water hyacinth to take over and make it very difficult for fishermen to navigate around. It is home to the White Pelican and over 100 other migrating and water birds. But things are happening to help the lake. Groups and government are working to try to bring the health back and I am sure someday they will.

4 comments:

Pat Shaughnessy said...

Were the poles there before the flooding and what are they for?

Peter and Roma said...

My Mum and I went to Puerto Vallarta about 25 years ago and made a day trip from there to Guadalajara and Lake Chapala. The level of the lake seemed normal when we were there and we really enjoyed our visit.
One memory I have is of a woman kneeling on the ground in the shade of some trees by the lake and producing a beautiful weaving with a backstrap loom.
Roma

Dr. Todd D. Stong said...

I question if we are too readily declaring Lake Chapala as polluted. I am a volunteer engineer who has been working water projects at the lake and in the nearby villages for about 8 years. Lots of substances enter lakes all over the world. But to say a body of water is polluted by such subatances I would suggest one needs to identify the substance and then compare its level in the water with international limits for that substance. In the case of Lake Chapala, at its volume since 2004, I think it may not be possible to identify any substance that exceeds acceptable levels. Many armchair critics have spoken to heavy metals and untreated sewage. While heavy metal levels have at times in the case of lead and perhaps cadmium and mercury been more than considered good for fish at the east end of the lake where the Lerma River enters I do not believe that is the case since 2004. When one looks at the heavy metal levels in the lake relative to human health one finds these levels are below those considered for source water to be used for public consumption after purification. For years the city of Guadalajara has used this lake water as its major source for its people. As to untreated sewage much has been done in the last decade to correct treatment plant failures. I personally in the Spring of 2008 had about 50 coliform bacteria tests perform on water samples taken at various places that might be used by the public along the north shore of the lake. None of the values obtained exceeded any international, USA or Mexican criteria for full body immersion recreation. In fact the levels in general were 1/3 that found on the average California beach.

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