They boast works on the Santiago River; ignore industrial pollution

Four years after the Government of Jalisco announced the strategy for the sanitation of the Santiago River, The authorities are unaware of the treatment of industrial-type water, which pollutes the basin the most.

“This is a federal question, we do not have data, what we have said many times is that we need better coordination with the federal government,” replied René Caro Gómez, Strategic Territory Management Coordinator, during the presentation of progress on the subject. . However, the National Water Commission fails to provide detailed information on the sanctioned industrialists.

He explained that within its competence is the treatment of wastewater, which was at 61% at the beginning of the administration and will reach 75% at the end of it.

According to the state government, they are expanding the coverage of urban wastewater treatment. He reported that there are 17 treatment plants in the upper basin and collectors in El Ahogado, with an operation and maintenance budget of 1,725 ​​million pesos. About, More than 50% of the treatment plants built in the basin have been abandoned, mainly due to the high costs they generate, which must be absorbed by the municipalities.

The Executive pointed out that “changes in land use, human settlements and industrial activity are the main sources of contamination of the water of the Santiago River. In addition to the above, agricultural activities and waste disposal have important contributions to river pollution that have not yet been studied.”

In this regard, although the destination of the waste is a federal responsibility, he added that between 2019 and 2022, through the State Attorney for Environmental Protection, “two thousand 029 inspection visits and 53 closures have been carried out in the intervention area priority, of which 80% had the objective of verifying the proper management of special handling waste”. Nevertheless, there is no record of how many of the companies contribute to recycling water.

For years, residents of the Santiago River have suffered from kidney disease. THE INFORMER/Archive

Unfinished screening for kidney patients

Bárbara Casillas, Strategic Coordinator for Social Development of the Government of Jalisco, announced that although four years have passed since the strategy to clean up the Santiago River was announced, the study is not yet ready. Also, There are only three nephrologists and there are no units for kidney patients to care for the population in the priority care area.

“In renal matters, a diagnosis is being made, screenings, consolidating the census. There are no hemodialysis equipment in the area.”

He explained that they support transportation to go to the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. “That is why we give them transportation so that they can come to the Civil Hospital, or those who have Social Security to the IMSS. That is care for those who are already sick. What we are looking for is that people do not get sick, environmental factors influence a lot but also other factors such as healthy habits influence 43%, that is why this awareness-raising process is sought in prevention. If you have other risk factors, you are more prone to developing kidney disease, and this is not only in the area of ​​influence of the river, in any other area”, he highlighted.

Regarding the increase in patients in the area, he said that there is no concrete data. “But like all chronic degenerative diseases, they are on the rise.”

Inhabitants of the area are exposed to the contamination of the water of the Santiago River. THE INFORMER/Archive

“It’s a simulation,” they denounce

Activist Alan Carmona, a member of the Un Salto de Vida collective, considers that in terms of health, screening is insufficient because it only includes minors. “It is a form of simulation of what is being requested by the commission, and what should be done in terms of health, from a toxicology and epidemiology perspective. What the Inter-American Commission requests is a medical diagnosis for all towns within five kilometers, and what this study represents is only a sector of the population and in one type of disease, when contamination is affecting the population of all age ranges, to all sectors, and with a multiplicity of diseases that can be associated with contamination”.

It also alerts that there are many discharges that are not being registered, channeled to drains or drains that are not channeled to treatment plants, “we have traveled with researchers. Industrial discharges, which apparently do not fall within its (State) jurisdiction, but are the responsibility of the federation, but they are being discharged from the industries to the collectors, which lead to the treatment plants operated by the CEA (State Commission for Water), as is the case of the Drowned”.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) establishes that the State must adopt the pertinent measures “to provide a specialized medical diagnosis for the beneficiaries, taking into account the alleged contamination, also providing them with adequate medical care in conditions of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality, in accordance with applicable international standards”.

On the other hand, Alan Carmona emphasizes that Another of the great and main pending tasks is to stop the rate of devastation of the territory. “It is pending that the State Government can align, or try to align a strategy of the 17 municipalities of priority intervention, especially from an urban development and territorial planning perspective, because industrial developments continue to be generated, infrastructure developments that are detrimental to the quality and health of the ecosystem”.

In 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures in favor of residents of the areas surrounding the Santiago River; He asked for a medical diagnosis and for the sources of risk to be mitigated. THE INFORMER/Archive

What does the IACHR precautionary measure say?

On February 7, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of residents of the areas surrounding the Santiago River, after considering that they are in a “serious and urgent situation of risk of irreparable damage to their rights as a result of alleged environmental contamination in the Santiago River and Lake Chapala.”

As part of the measures, they requested Mexico to adopt the necessary measures to preserve the life, personal integrity and health of the inhabitants of the areas up to five kilometers from the Santiago River in the municipalities of Juanacatlán and El Salto, as well as of the inhabitants from the towns of San Pedro Itzicán, Agua Caliente, Chalpicote and Mezcala in the municipality of Poncitlán.

In making its decision, the Commission noted with concern the studies provided by the applicants regarding the contamination and its harmful effect on the inhabitants. “Such studies show high percentages of indications of kidney diseases, presumably derived from exposure to pollutants present in the Santiago River and its surroundings, in addition to the detection of pesticides in the urine of girls and boys. Likewise, it was indicated that 28 people have died due to chronic kidney disease since 2003, including one person in mid-2019,” the press release detailed.

The region

63 companies are concentrated in the Zula river basin, affecting the sustainability of this area.

475 kilometers it runs from when it originates in the State of Mexico until it empties into Lake Chapala.

741 companies generate waste, emissions and discharges in the upper area of ​​the basin.

During several administrations, the river continues to be a source of infection. THE INFORMER/Archive


“Advances” stand out before the Inter-American Commission

The Government of Jalisco made a commitment to continue with the advances in the public agenda for the sanitation of the Santiago River, to support the focus on human rights and attention to health and the environment, as well as to give timely follow-up to the agreements established yesterday with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), highlighted the governor at the end of the meeting in the city of Washington.

“I was very pleased to be able to present everything we have done in the sanitation of the Santiago River, the way we are serving the affected populations, how we have given a public health approach to the entire strategy and how now the variable of human rights it has become a transversal axis that allows us to have a comprehensive public policy.”

Through a complete presentation that addressed all the axes and strategies for priority intervention under six strategic components, with a vision for the year 2050, “advances, challenges and commitments” were presented.

It was highlighted that They went from 64% to 75% of treated water in the basin with the fitting out and construction of strategic treatment plants and collectors. “It has been possible to contain the deterioration in water quality and start the sanitation processes throughout the basin; productive reconversion began throughout the basin; the comprehensive care strategy for the affected populations of El Salto, Juanacatlán and Poncitlán was launched; in addition to implementing the strategy to guarantee access to health for all affected inhabitants”.

The representatives of the IACHR expressed the intention to convert the strategy “Let’s Revive the Santiago Rivers and the Poncitlán Special Intervention Zone” into a case study of public policies with a human rights approach for the hemisphere.

In the hearing, the strengthening of the health infrastructure in the municipalities that make up the basin was made clear, with the community hospitals under construction in El Salto and Ocotlán, in addition to the hemodialysis units, a second level care hospital under construction, the Oriente Civil Hospital, less than 30 kilometers from the area and achieving 20 of 35 accredited first-level health units, all of them exceeding 63.3 million dollars.

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