After an 11-year pause due to a slew of legal challenges, work restarted on the Zapotillo Dam in northern Jalisco last weekend, a move that many hope signals “the beginning of the end” to Guadalajara’s chronic water shortages.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Governor Enrique Alfaro were both on hand to witness machinery fire up again on a project that many believed would end up as an expensive white elephant.
When finished, the dam could supply up to 3,000 liters of water a second to the Guadalajara metropolitan area via new two aqueducts connecting Zapotillo—via the Calderon Dam—to the metropolitan area.
The federal government has committed $US340 million to completing the dam and its complimentary aqueducts—a project that has been redesigned to avoid inundating three local communities, Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo. To achieve this, and despite its initial objections, the National Water Commission was obliged to reduce the height of the dam’s curtain from 105 to 80 meters.
Alfaro, who has been involved in some fierce disputes with AMLO since both took office in late 2018, thanked the president for his efforts to get the dam back on track and for guaranteeing financing from this year’s federal budget.
“Its a great day for Jalisco,” Alfaro said. “We have finally solved a problem that had been discussed for 40 years.”
Alfaro said the first stage of the project should be finished by the end of 2023, allowing one cubic meter of water (1,000 liters per second) to be pumped to the metropolitan area. The project should be fully operational by the end of 2024, he said.