Citizen Manifest for Lake Cuitzeo, Mexico ecological restoration

Citizen Manifest for Lake Cuitzeo, Mexico ecological restoration

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ARTURO CHACON TORRES lanzó esta petición dirigida para President of Mexican Republic and Enviromental and water authorities

                                                  CITIZEN MANIFEST

 

Ecological restoration and economic recovery in Lake Cuitzeo

The underlined world’s community based on the Constitutional 4th Article of the United Mexican States in which the right to a healthy environment is granted to any citizen for an adequate development and well-being, we manifest to Mexican society federal governmental institutions, and to the international community the following statements:

1.     Cuitzeo is the second largest Mexican lake in the national territory, aprt for being one of the mos ancient lakes in the world with 8.0 million years. It is a like shared between two states including Michoacán de Ocampo and Guanajuato, this means that it is a highly strategic and valuable lacustrine environment for Central México. However, it is one of the most neglected and deteriorated lakes in the Mexican territory.

2.     Its hydrological watershed shows a progressive negative social, economic, and environmental impact. From more than a half century, problems causing the environmental deterioration to have been exacerbated including change for land use, deforestation for avocado growth, hillside degradation, open sky trash dumping, municipal and agriculture sewage lake pollution, los of native fish species, desiccation, dust storms, confrontation between localities, fishermen with farmers, and the increasing economic instability.      

3.     The watershed is 3,675 km2 in surface, whereas the lake is about 420 km2 at an altitude of 1,820 meters above sea level. The lake has three defined lacustrine basins: the eastern basin with freshwater and the existence of water springs, wetlands, and internal thermal water springs; the Central basin with increasing salt and minerals concentration, sewage discharges and very low depth; and the Western basin with high values of mineral concentration and pollutants, as well as high instability of water residence and frequent desiccation periods.

4.     At present the average storage annual volume of Lake Cuitzeo is only 255.0 Mm3, this is the same amount of water of Lake Zirahuen which is 42 times smaller in surface (10.0 km2). Lake Cuitzeo is 1.50 m in maximum depth and 0.50 m in mean depth. The Río Grande of Morelia is the main inlet with a theoretical flow of 150.0Mm3/year including numerous agricultural and urban pollutants. Other tributaries are Querendaro and Zinapecuaro rivers with a total contribution of 40.0 Mm3/year, apart from other small streams originated in the high mountains.

5.     Although Lake Cuitzeo has not a natural outlet to the sea, in 1958 the channel called La Cinta was built to discharge surplus above the mean lake water level to the Yuriria lagoon in the state of Guanajuato. In 1988 after long periods of desiccation fishermen groups blocked and plugged La Cinta to prevent major effects of desiccation

6.     In 1941 the building of the Cointzio dam induced one of the first desiccation periods in modern times in Lake Cuitzeo, there after the building of the Malpais dam substantially decreased the supply of surface water to Lake Cuitzeo.

7.     During the period of 1980 to 1985 soil grounding activities in the Central basin were carried out to open to 1,500 hectares inside the lake for agriculture activities. This grounding in consequence decreased not only the original surface of the lake but blocked and water stagnation was caused in the Central basin of the lake. The mainland grounding has increased up to 2,000 hectares. The result is now an increase of water evaporation and massive aquatic plants growth, with navigation obstruction and the loss of extensive fishing areas.

8.     The building of the 43D highway which runs from Morelia to Salamanca caused a profoundly serious damage to the lake. Because instead of building a bridge as is established in terms of environmental quality and compatibility in road engineering criteria to allow free water flows, a stone embankment was built which also caused a strong block to water flow directed to the Western basin increasing even more the progressive lake desiccation.

9.     At present Lake Cuitzeo is well known because of the frequent dust storms in the Western basin, this dust storms contain high concentrations of salt, cysts, bacteria, and viruses which are suspended in the air and dragged to the communities of Capacho, Jeruco, Doctor Miguel Silva and Cuitzeo.

10. All these processes impact in public health and regional economy, due to the expenses for medical attention and respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin and eye disease treatment. Between the most four municipalities affected (Chucandiro, Huandacareo, Copandaro and Cuitzeo) 97,026 respiratory and 11,288 stomach infection cases have been reported.

11. According to the results obtained by field research made by the University of Michoacan (UMSNH) the affected inhabitants by these four municipalities expend all together up to $ 350,000 American dollars in the desiccation period of four months with dust storms occurrence.

12. On the rest of the lake although with the presence of water, depth is progressively decreasing with siltation from the deforested mountains, more aquatic plants are growing, and water springs deterioration is in process.

13. In 1993 fishing captures in Lake Cuitzeo reached up to 5,546 tons with a yield rate of up to 130 kg/hectare. At present a maximum catch of 250 tons with a yield rate of only 8.0 kg/hectare is registered. Of a total of 19 fish species registered in the year of 1975, only 6 species have survived.

14. The major environmental and economic damage is observed in the fishermen because is the most vulnerable social group in a space of 4,000 km2 of watershed.

15. With the advance of Lake Cuitzeo deterioration and its desiccation the illegal occupation of the federal shoreline is increasing, fishing as economic activity is also a loss. And moreover, this nation is losing and extensive lake which could be of fundamental importance to supply water to those neighbor states which at present are under hydrological stress to continue with agriculture, fishing, and industrial activities.

Because of the above, and using our constitutional rights we demand to the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) and all candidates to the government of Michoacan the following:

1.     To comply with the point of agreement taken at the Union Congress last 15th January 2019, as well as the proposal elaborate4d by the Senate of the Republic last 20th of September 2005, to declare as soon as possible Lake Cuitzeo as Ecological Restoration Zone as established in the Article 78th of the General Law of the Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA).

2.     That the federal, State and Municipal governments in collaboration with organized society approve under participative and inclusive a Master and Urgent Plan for Sustainable Management of Lake Cuitzeo Watershed considering the following priority actions:

3.    The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) make public immediately as is its institutional attribute and responsibility in the Official Federal Newspaper (Diario Oficial de la Federación) the geographical limits map of the federal zone of Lake Cuitzeo considering that is the nation’s patrimony and this surface is of fundamental importance for the existence of the lake basin including the geographical coordinates of this polygonal delimitation.

4.     The National Water Commission (CONAGUA), elaborate make the annual publication as it is its institutional responsibility the balance of surface and underground water of the entire watershed of Lake Cuitzeo including ecological flow that belongs to a surface of 420.0 km2 of lacustrine environment established at a minimum of 1840 meters above sea level.

5.     That the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) develop an integrated model of hydrological management of the with the guarantee of water surplus for the three basins of Lake Cuitzeo, considering criteria as biodiversity conservation as the principal natural resource including the participation and consensus of the society.

6.     That the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), informs to the public with documental evidence about the public policies of change of land use on the shoreline and the watershed of Lake Cuitzeo to regulate illegal invading behavior of the federal zone.

7.     To allocate the sufficient federal economical resources to elaborate the Local Territorial Ecological Zoning in the municipalities in both shoreline and watershed.

8.     Municipalities located at the shoreline of Lake Cuitzeo as it is its administrative responsibility elaborate its Local Territorial Ecological Zoning (OETL), assigning those areas located in the shoreline of the lake the environmental policy of PROTECTION guaranteeing with this legal procedure the preservation of existent natural resources on federal zone on the shoreline of Lake Cuitzeo.

9.     That the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), in coordination with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the Secretary of Environment, Climate Change and Territory Development (SEMACCDET), and the Estate Water Commission and Watershed Management (CEAC) from the Government of the State of Michoacan, execute those actions and strategic projects for lake and watershed restoration including the government level of Municipalities.

10. The establishment of compatible programs to support the economic potential of each municipality under the criteria of sustainable development.

11. To develop native species aquaculture and wild fish stocking for the recovery the economy and fishing tradition and culture.

12. These actions and strategic projects for the restoration of Lake Cuitzeo complying with the same article 78th of the General Law of the Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA) must include a program of temporary employment for the fishermen of Lake Cuitzeo and their families because the fishermen have lost not only their job source, but they have received  the worst economic damage from all economic sector in the watershed. In this way it will be possible, with justice, and equity to restore the lake together with citizen participation, in social co-responsibility, regional identity   and the social and economic benefits that any citizen of the world has the right to enjoy.

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