Last updateThu, 15 May 2014 10am

Letters to the Editor - April 25, 2014

Dear Sir,

Felipe Tito Lugo, director of the Jalisco Water Commission (CEA), stated that the lake is “in a critical phase, maintaining a steady decline” because of the amount of rainfall.

He does not define the critical level of Lake Chapala nor does he talk of the 90 percent reason for the decline, the 500 dams upriver capturing 100 percent of the water coming down the Lerma River. Perhaps he is thinking of the critical level of pollutants. When the lake reaches 30 percent of capacity, then the concentration of heavy metals will have reached the critical point of being toxic, and currently the Guadalajara water purification system cannot remove them.

Tito Lugo is responsible for the water that reaches Guadalajara. We would like to know his plan to make the water supply available for the six out of ten Tapatios in the future, as well as informing us that the situation is critical.

Scientist Arturo Ballesteros stated in last week’s Reporter article that “the true reason for the pending crisis is that the lake does not receive sufficient influx from the main source, the Lerma River.” This is true, because the dams in the five states take the water and then sell it to the farmers.

The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) oversees all water usage in Mexico, including the dams along the Lerma River, while at the same time receiving the major part of its yearly income from the sale of water concessions. The more water they sell, the more money they makes. CONAGUA makes no money for water that goes into Lake Chapala. Jalisco’s CEA works for CONAGUA. There is little wonder that it is a challenge to keep Lake Chapala full. 

Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval could make the difference, as about 2.5 million people in Guadalajara will be affected by the drop in water level of Lake Chapala. In the past when the lake levels were low, the state governors used their influence to fill the lake.  Hopefully that will be the case now.

 Rick Cowlishaw, Ajijic

Dear Sir,

Thank you for reporting on the dedication of the Juanita Reed Memorial placed in the Jardin Internacional by the Garden Guild.

What a wonderful and fitting memorial to a great lady, who loved Mexico and Ajijic in particular.

I attended the lovely program and was struck by something that our Ajijic delegado said in his presentation:  “Due to the intense sun out here today, I will keep my message brief …”

Most people in Ajijic probably don’t go back far enough to remember when that area of the shoreline was a virtual forest of dense “indigenous” trees, common along the shores of Lake Chapala.  You can still see them in almost all areas except the two blocks around where Juanita’s memorial has been placed.  

According to locals, long before that area of homes was gentrified there were trees but, one by one, they have been destroyed. Some may have died when the water level rose severely a decade ago, but most were killed off because they block the view of Mt. Garcia or the lake in general. 

All of the lakefront malecon park has benefitted from reforestation efforts begun long before I was asked to maintain and develop the little section called Jardin Internacional.  People donated hundreds of trees to be planted there (primaveras, rosa moradas and others). Back in the 1990’s the current town administrator’s mother (Julieta Ramos) planted hundreds of trees in the area around the children’s swings and slides.

At first I thought it a fluke of nature that there were no mature trees in the area.  But I came to realize that those flowering trees were either being severely pruned down to less than one meter in height or deliberately killed.  

I have also come to realize that the “wild” trees that normally grow nearer to the water’s edge have also been killed or cut off.  The native willows and mesquites grow tall everywhere except in that stretch of shoreline.

When I took over the area last year I started to plant a few more flowering trees in the area around the Buddha statue and was quickly notified by the delegado that one property owner whose home skirts the park had gone to Chapala to complain about the trees and the nuisance they cause along with the statues.  Another homeowner one day screamed at the city’s gardener, threatening to graffiti the statues and fell one tree that was too close to his view line of the lake!

A couple of the homeowners there are friends of mine and we disagree on whether or not they should have control over the land outside their walls (most of them already have a substantial amount of the federal zone land inside their walls which they exclusively control).  

If it is fine for some property owners to “fix” the lakefront to their liking, why not offer the rest of those whose property line butts up against the park the opportunity to “clean out” trees that may block their view. Or, how about removing those swings and slides –  all that noise of those children make while playing must annoy some property owners!

I have spoken with Moctezuma Medina and the Ajijic delegado and neither wish to defend the rights of the majority in favor of the rights of these landowners (the most vocal of which are two Guadalajara families, who spend occasional weekends at their lakeside homes).  If you or I were to trim a tree in the street without a permit we could be fined but the people responsible for killing the trees at the lakefront have not even been given a written notice.

In a couple of weeks I plan to circulate a petition to the Chapala mayor asking that we be allowed some shade trees in the Jardin Internacional.  If you would be interested in helping please contact me.

Tom Thompson  

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