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The Arcediano Dam

Arcediano Dam site

Arcediano Dam site.
Credit: Aviva Imhof
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If built, waters from the Arcediano Dam may cause serious health problems in the more than three million people of Guadalajara City, the second largest city in Mexico. The 125 meter height dam promoted by The Jalisco State Water Commission (CEAS) will store water from the highly polluted Santiago River, which is the recipient of large amounts of untreated domestic and industrial wastewaters.

In 2001, the National Water Commission (CNA) declared the Santiago River unsuitable as a source of raw water to supply drinking water. Nevertheless, the Arcediano Dam Project is proposed as a water supply dam. Residents of Guadalajara are concerned that the water will be unsuitable for human consumption, and that the treatment facilities are inadequate for removing the toxic heavy metals and organic wastes that have accumulated in the Santiago River.

Although most people directly impacted by the dam have left their homes and accepted small amounts of money, one woman, Doña Lupe Lara refuses to leave and has filed a suit against the government. Doña Lupe who lives with her sister and 80-year-old mother in the area that would be flooded, began receiving threats from the government after the filing of the lawsuit.

All the other families in the area have left, and their homes were demolished. They are living in the nearby city of Guadalajara, their communities split up, and many people apparently now regret accepting the compensation from the government and agreeing to move.

Not only does the dam threaten local residents, but the canyon where the dam would be built is a rich habitat for flora and fauna, including endangered and endemic species. High biodiversity will be lost when forest lands are cleared to give way to the 800 hectares reservoir.

The project will cost close to US$300 million. The Inter-American Development Bank provided funding to the state government for building water treatment facilities at "El Ahogado" and "Agua Prieta" water treatment facilities, and for other facilities associated with the project. Additional funding is expected to come from other sources.

IRN is working with local NGOs to support their campaign to stop the Arcediano dam until epidemiological and environmental impact studies are conducted before considering construction of the project, and that adequate alternatives for water supply are sought for Guadalajara City.

latest additions

The Arcediano Dam is not the Solution for Supplying Drinking Water to the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area
The reservoir of the Arcediano Dam would hold untreated industrial effluent and the city’s sewage representing a high risk for the health of Guadalajara residents, March 16, 2007.
Help Protect People’s Health in Jalisco, Mexico
Write to Mexican authorities requesting that health and environmental studies are carried out before consider building the Arcediano Dam and that adequate water supply alternatives are sought for Guadalajara City, October 9, 2006.
Additional Information

Monti Aguirre, Latin America Campaigner

International Rivers Network


Phone: +1 510-848-1155