The Río Grande de Santiago is one of the longest rivers in Mexico, measuring up 433 km (269 mi) long. The river begins at Lake Chapala and continues roughly north-west through the Sierra Madre Occidental, receiving the Verde, Juchipila, Bolaños, and other tributaries. At La Yesca, the La Yesca Dam was completed in 2012 and the El Cajón Dam was completed downstream in 2007. Below El Cajón, the Aguamilpa Dam was completed in 1993, creating a reservoir covering a large part of the territory of the municipality of El Nayar in Nayarit. From Aguamilpa, the river descends to the coastal lowlands, passing by Santiago Ixcuintla and empties into the Pacific Ocean, 16 km (10 mi) northwest of San Blas, in Nayarit. The river is viewed by some sources as a continuation of the Lerma River, which flows into Lake Chapala.
|Río Grande de Santiago
||Pacific Ocean at San Blas / Santiago Ixcuintla, Nayarit
||136,628 square kilometres (52,752 sq mi)
||433 km (269 mi)
- Average rate:
Average: 320 cubic metres per second (11,000 cu ft/s)
Maximum: 2,113 cubic metres per second (74,600 cu ft/s)
Minimum: 29.5 cubic metres per second (1,040 cu ft/s)
Mexico possesses a small percentage of the world’s freshwater reserve, 0.1%. According to an article named Water use (and abuse) and its effects on the crater-lake Valle de Santiago, Mexico “most Mexican lakes are in an advanced state of desiccation or senescence, with volumes and surface area greatly reduced because of human activities” (page 145). Some examples of these damaging activities are wood cutting, inflow diversion for agriculture, groundwater over extraction, pollution and eutrophication. Together Rio Lerma Santiago is a little over 600 miles long, but alone Rio Santiago is reported to be 269 miles long. It is an extension of the Lerma River, which at 466 miles long it is one of Mexico’s longest rivers. The water begins in the Mexican Plateau in Mexico City. Then travels westward and goes through the Lerma River, and empties in Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara. From there the water flows southward through Rio Santiago and dissipates to the Pacific Ocean near San Blas, in Nayarit. According to an article named Impacts from contamination of the Santiago River on the well-being of the inhabitants of El Salto, Jalisco the river passes by “Ocotlán, Poncitlán, Atequiza, Atotonilquillo, Juanacatlán, ,El Salto, Tonalá among others” (Gonzalez and Hernandez, page 711). Less than 50 years ago the river was once a place to fish, bathe, and swim. It is now a river full of pollutants, with a smell that can only be described as worse than rotten eggs. This river is not the most polluted river ever but it is one of the worst polluted in Mexico. It doesn’t only hurt locals, but all of Mexico which rely on the river for water supply and food.
In February 2008 an eight-year-old boy, Miguel Angel Lopez Rocha, died after he fell into the river. Rocha fell near the El Salto Falls, where not that long ago tourists came from all over the world to see the falls. He died nineteen days after he fell into the river. One autopsy indicated heavy metal poison was the reason for his death. This even brought attention to one of Mexico’s worst environmental disasters. “When Miguel died, an invisible problem became visible” said Maria Gonzalez from the Mexican Institute for Community Development. After the unfortunate incident many locals organized a group called “A Leap of Life”. According to Gonzalez and Hernandez “this made it possible to carry out the Second National Assembly Environmentally Affected by the end of May 2009 in El Salto” (713). Their goal is to join the national movement that brings together communities and organizational. “They are struggling to defend their resources, the right to health and to a healthy environment” (Gonzalez and Hernandez, page 713). Since Gonzalez and Hernandez’s article was published in 2009, they didn’t get to mention that the National Commission for Human Health tried to declare the area of El Salto an Emergency Zone. They failed because the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources refused, he feared it would hurt the economy. Also, in the past decade the National Water Commission has not reported a single fine for illegal discharge of chemical waste into the river. When something of this magnitude happens you expect your government to help or regulate the problem, but instead it is up to the locals to try and convince the government to spend their money to save the river.