Contaminated waters and kidney epidemic at Lake Chapala


APRIL 3, 2020


One of the most relevant problems as a consequence of the contaminated waters in the Jalisco territory is undoubtedly kidney disease, which is accentuated in highly localized regions and whose consequences are beginning to worry epidemiologists and human rights defenders.

Of all the regions, the most studied so far, is undoubtedly the population settled along the Chapala riverside and, mainly, those with tens of thousands of inhabitants of which the incidence of mortality reaches, according to official statistics, the 8.61 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants, according to data from the Ministry of Health, only for the town of San Pedro Itzican, which makes it the town with the highest rate of kidney disease in the world.

Jalisco encabeza lista de enfermos renales | El Informador ...

Located this town in the municipality of Poncitlán, it has a little more than 5 thousand inhabitants, and, according to the Jalisco government, in each house or family, there is a kidney patient.

The tragic stories about the loss of loved ones, in this town, are a concrete reality of everyday life with names and surnames where children, adolescents and those under the age of 30 abound; those who have died or are in the process of learning to survive with kidney disease or waiting for a kidney transplant or worse, the hope of receiving hemodialysis as a public benefit.

For his part, the researcher from the University of Guadalajara Felipe González Kastens, pointed out the absence of this kidney damage in the first generation, not in the second generation of living inhabitants, but in the third, that is, in those whose age is related to the beginning and development of the increasing contamination of the Lerma-Chapala basin that feeds the lagoon, which is also the “feeder” of most of the underground water systems and part of the waters of these small towns. Which, of course, does not have any treatment system for chlorination or any other hygienic order.

That could be the foreseeable course for other populations near the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area because although they receive mostly treated water from the aqueduct from Lake Chapala, the truth is that the abandonment of wastewater treatment plants discharged towards the main lake vessels near Guadalajara, could be reproducing the same mistake of abandonment to all these riverside populations of the largest lake in Mexico; Especially if we consider the origin of a pollution problem accentuated by 7 federal entities that have the epicenter of pollution in towns such as San Pedro Itzican, Cajititlán, El Salto de Juanacatlán and, soon, unfortunately,

Especially if we consider that, of the total waters of our state, until 2017 we had been able to identify 85% of these in a state of contamination and, according to UdeG researcher José Antonio Gómez Reyna, we are in Jalisco, in an environment of acute contamination in relation to the rest of the waters of the national territory. Especially if we consider having the largest lake in Mexico but the longest, most looted, and most polluted basin in the country.

Vulnerable water pollution

Of all the regions where there are consequences for the contamination of Jalisco’s surface waters, including the death of a child in El Salto, where most childhood illnesses have been detected, it is in the municipality of Poncitlán that the highest incidence of insufficiency is reported. renal, from which, and at the request of its inhabitants, when more than 6 thousand school-age boys and girls of the 50 thousand infants were located in homes in the municipalities settled in the Ribera de Chapala.

The place occupied by Jalisco is the seventh national for deaths related to chronic kidney failure as well as 25 deaths in children under 18 registered last year in our state.

Notwithstanding the above, according to epidemiologists from the University of Guadalajara, the sanitation of the Santiago River has been the most deficient in the past 6 years.

In this critical panorama, the state Governor has led monitoring visits, and whose opinion for the time being will be raised before the national health council (CONASA), which may mean a voice but few results if concrete and systemic actions are not taken. where the majority of citizens, environmentalists, and scientists believe we find the origin of the problem: 1. The dysfunction or total inoperation of the wastewater treatment plants established in the Law for all municipalities; 2. The overexploitation, without control or consequences, of the waters of the upper Lerma whose participation, in an arithmetic operation, would imply a greater volume of water amid the percentage of pollutants discharged and; 3. The unpunished contamination of more than 700 companies which, for the moment, follow the impunity contamination.

Everything points towards permanent contamination aggravated by an irrational extraction of the vital liquid, mainly by the agro-production and tanning companies of Guanajuato as well as the pig industries of Michoacán, which for more than 30 years have accumulated economic, political and social capital. contrasting with the uncontrollable pollution generated throughout the basin and a critical situation in its passage through the municipality of El Salto. And being systemic and concurrent to the great Chapala lake, the affectations of those who live on the shore have been documented by high-level scientific institutions, with hard figures, such as the 29 companies identified as the main pollutants; the 18 affected municipalities,

For this, the State Department of Infrastructure and Public Works has budgeted 120 million pesos to rehabilitate and maintain aquifer facilities (aqueducts and plants); which is very far from the necessary reconversion for a new culture in the reconversion of the use and access to the surface, rainwater and residual water, for which, we continue waiting.


He is a critical and academic partner trained in union and partisan orthodoxy who has written topics related to the Urban question and to the city mainly from exclusion and deep inequality, he has written several books referring mainly to the study of architecture and political practice as the theory of debate with a solid university education that has allowed him to be rector of the University Center of the South Coast and local Deputy as well as a research professor for 40 years.


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