Drought advances; covers 66% of the national territory

Precipitation deficits and warmer temperatures were factors that influenced an increase in the areas with drought in Mexico, as revealed by the latest report from the Conagua drought monitor.

As of February 15, it was documented that 224 municipalities, of 2,463 counted, were between moderate and exceptional drought in the country, for February 28 the number of localities in the same ranges was 385, that is, an increase of 71.8 percent.

If the localities classified as abnormally dry are considered, for February 28 the figure rose to 1,200 affected, four municipalities more than the 1,196 registered on February 15.

According to the report of the National Water Commission (Conagua), precipitation deficits were observed mainly in the Baja California Peninsula, the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the north of Coahuila and Nuevo León. Warmer than average temperatures were recorded in the central, western, and South Pacific regions.

“In the northwest, moderate and severe drought increased (D1 and D2); moderate to extreme drought (D1 to D3) increased in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas; while abnormally dry conditions (D0) and moderate drought (D1) increased in the central, western and southern Pacific regions,” according to the report.

Similarly, it was documented that the percentage of the territory with some type of affectation (D0 to D4) due to this phenomenon went from 56.31% in the first fortnight of last month to 66.21% for the second fortnight. Within the range of moderate to extreme drought, it was 23.11% at the national level, 9.95% higher than what was quantified as of February 15.

The entities with the entire territory affected by drought are Aguascalientes and Sinaloa, while states such as Nayarit, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Jalisco and Zacatecas present degrees of drought that affect up to 98% of their land.

In contrast, Morelos, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Yucatán are not affected.

Impact on infrastructure

Specialists consulted agree that the drought that the country has experienced since last year and that has occurred in the first three months of 2022 is worrying, while referring that the measures applied by the government are reactive, without taking into account the background of the problem and that there is a lack of budget to deal with it.

“It is worrying that the budget has not been directed according to need, we see a reduction in the last five years of almost 100%. We worked with more than 55,000 million pesos and right now they are below 30,000 million, there was an increase this year, however, it is insufficient and the different entities report it”, said Juan Francisco Bustamante.

From the perspective of the director of the Water Association in Mexico, there is a lack of interest on the part of government agencies to promote better use of the vital liquid and indicated that droughts could cause problems in Mexico’s water infrastructure.

The research professor of the Center for Demographic, Urban and Environmental Studies of El Colegio de México, Judith Domínguez, agreed with the foregoing and added that in large dams, sediments accumulate in this dry season and low rainfall.

According to the National Weather Service, from January 1 to March 6, there has been a 26% rainfall deficit compared to the historical average.

“Unfortunately there is not enough money to remove the dams. The extreme heat could affect the infrastructure and we have seen it in companies in the US (…) The perception is that the shortage has already reached us and they are experiencing it, especially in the northern states of the country”, he referred.

Francisco Bustamante explained that as a result of the possible problems of the drought in Mexico, the water that reaches Mexican homes could be contaminated, in addition to the fact that, he estimated, it could lead to the need to renew the water infrastructure “because it is designed and implemented for a type of water supply (…) new infrastructure would be required and there would be no money for that, if we had 90% access to water, it would drop to 80 or 70% we are talking about more than 30 million people without access to Water”.

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