Mexico's El Zapotillo dam still considered financially feasible

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Building El Zapotillo dam in Mexico's Jalisco state is still financially feasible, according to the finance ministry (SHCP).

The assessment was made by minister José Antonio Meade (pictured) during a private meeting with Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval, reported local daily El Occidental.

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The officials met to discuss the reactivation of the project following last week's announcement that the government of Jalisco would accept that the dam's wall be 105m high, despite the flooding of three communities which that would entail.

"This is a topic that still has some aspects we need to carefully review together with [water authority] Conagua, and the state. We need to find the best way to grant not only financial, but also political and social feasibility to the project," Meade was quoted by the paper as saying after the meeting.

The minister also confirmed that the federal resources earmarked for the project when the initiative was launched are still available.

Meade and Sandoval also reviewed the financial feasibility of other waterworks being planned for the state, such as construction of El Purgatorio dam, which is currently halted.

Construction of the El Zapotillo dam on the Verde river began in late 2009 with an original completion date of 2015. The works are being carried out by Spanish companies FCC and Grupo Hermes, and Mexico's La Penínsular.

The project will require investment of some 10bn pesos (about US$500mn), with the federal government expected to provide 96.8% through national infrastructure fund Fonadin, and Jalisco state the rest.

The reservoir will supply water to state capital Guadalajara, the Los Altos region and León, a city in neighboring Guanajuato state. It will be located 100km from Guadalajara and is expected to have storage capacity of 411Mm3 and supply 9m3/s of water for 25 years.

Work on the project has been halted with the dam's wall at a height of 80m due to a court order. Last week, as governor Sandoval announced that there was no other feasible option but to increase the height of the wall, he said that no works would be undertaken until the residents of the area to be affected are relocated and awarded suitable compensation.

The dam forms part of a larger project that also includes the construction of a pipeline, which has also faced several financial and legal difficulties.