In 1966, the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona was erected and the river flow decreased to 8 cubic meters per second. But what no one seemed to be counting on, between treaties and dams, was climate change.
“In Mexicali it has never rained,” said Hinojosa-Huerta, “the flow reaching the region and supporting agriculture comes from the snowfall of 2,600 kilometers [1,600 miles] in the Rockies. “
It all depends on the precipitation in Wyoming and Colorado, but since 2002 snowfall has been below average, depleting the river and creating a “sorry panorama,” he said.
Baja California and California in Mexico share the same geography and climatic conditions. Years of warmer temperatures, a failed rainy season last summer and poor snow cover have combined to cause the region’s rivers to decline.
Hell on earth
But the heat also kills. In 2019, there were at least eight deaths in Mexicali associated with the high temperatures; in 2020, they were 83.
“People cannot live with these temperatures, meaning people die,” Zavala said, “although they are used to the heat, even small increases exceed the body’s survival threshold. human”.
On August 14, 2020, Mexicali recorded 122 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record of 121 which dated from August 1981.
Froilán Meza Rivera, veteran journalist and writer from northern Mexico, consulted the archives of the Water Resources Secretariat. It seems that in July 1966, in Riíto, a Mexican community, a thermometer reached an unprecedented figure of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. And that was its limit: the mercury was rising to the top and could no longer measure.
That would be the highest number in the world: according to the World Meteorological Organization, the highest temperature recorded was 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley in California.
The region is exposed to the worst possible scenarios in terms of climate emergency, according to Roberto Sánchez Rodríguez, academic of the Colegio de la Frontera Norte. “Governments have mismanaged resources, which is why there is less water available,” he said.
The narcos also fish
Since 1993, the Cucapá fishing territory has been included in the Upper Gulf of California and the Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve, which covers an area of 2.3 million acres. This protected area was created to preserve flora and fauna, such as vaquita porpoises and totoaba, which are on the verge of extinction.
“We play by the rules, we know the species must be protected because we are an indigenous people, we use the nets and the equipment that the government asks of us and we do not go out when it is not our turn,” said Rubén Flores. , captain of a panga, a boat used for traditional fishing.
An earthquake in 2010 also affected fishing. “This left us with huge cracks which have widened and which no longer allow us to fish as before,” said Hilda Hurtado Valenzuela, 68, president of the Sociedad Cooperativa Pueblo Indígena Cucapá, one of the associations that brings together people who still fish.
“Now the ocean currents are entering where the old banks of the river were, they are damaging it and we are left without part of our territory,” said Hurtado, who said she was born on the banks of the river. Colorado.