Authorities fear the once flourishing water bodies that served surrounding communities could turn into dusty plains.
Drought conditions now cover 85% of Mexico, and people in the country’s central region said on Thursday that lakes and reservoirs were simply drying up, including the country’s second largest body of freshwater.
The mayor of Mexico City said the drought was the worst in 30 years, and the problem can be seen in the reservoirs. which store water other states to supply the capital.
Some of them, like the Villa Victoria reservoir west of the capital, are at a third of their normal capacity, with a month and a half before heavy rains are expected.
Isais Salgado, 60, was trying to refuel his tanker at Villa Victoria, a task that normally only takes him half an hour. On Thursday, he estimated it took him three and a half hours to pump water into his 10,000-liter (2,641-gallon) tanker.
“The tank is drying up,” Salgado said. “If they keep pumping water, by May it will be completely dry and the fish will die.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said as the drought worsened, more people tended to to water their lawns and gardens, which makes the problem worse.
The capital’s nine million people depend on reservoirs like Villa Victoria and two others – which together have a capacity of around 44 percent – for a quarter of their water. Most of the rest comes from wells located within the city limits. But the city’s water table is dropping, and leaky pipes waste much of what is brought into the city.
Rogelio Angeles Hernandez, 61, has been fishing in the waters of Villa Victoria for 30 years. He’s not so worried about his own catch, during the dry seasons of the past residents could transport fish in wheelbarrows as the water level declined.
But tourism in reservoirs, such as the Valle de Bravo further west, has been affected by the drop in water levels.
In the end, it is the capital that will really suffer.
“The fishing is the same, but the real impact will be on the people of Mexico City, who are going to have less water,” Angeles Hernandez said.
Further west, in Michoacan state, the country is at risk of losing its second largest lake, Lake Cuitzeo, where about 70 percent of the lake bed is now dry. The main culprit is the drought, but locals say roads built across the shallow lake and diversion of water for human use have also played a role.
Michoacan Governor Silvano Aureoles said much of the lake has dried up as riparian communities are now suffering from dust storms. He said communities may need to start planting vegetation on the lake bed to prevent them.
In a petition to the government, residents of the communities around the lake said only six of the 19 species of fish once found in Cuitzeo were still present. They said the dust storms had caused tens of thousands of respiratory and intestinal infections among local residents.