Mexicos's El Zapotillo aqueduct pushed back nine months

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Construction works on the El Zapotillo aqueduct between Jalisco state and León, capital of Guanajuato state, have been postponed for nine months, local water utility Sistema de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de León (Sapal), said in a release.

The El Zapotillo reservoir and aqueduct project is an ambitious development involving the investment of around 16.1bn pesos (US$960mn). Construction works are already underway despite the opposition of civil organizations who claim that the project will flood towns and cause environmental impacts.

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The El Zapotillo reservoir and aqueduct will now start operations in August 2018, Sapal said, but did not explain why the start-up has been pushed back nine months.

The authorities also approved an additional 121mn pesos (US$7.1mn) to conclude the works.

Construction of the dam began late in 2009 and the project was expected to be completed in the second half of 2015, according to information from water authority Conagua.

Meanwhile, construction of the aqueduct started late last year and was expected to be finished by late 2017.

Construction of the El Zapotillo-León pipeline began in October last year. It will receive water from the El Zapotillo reservoir and supply about 1.5mn people in León, as well as serving people in the Altos de Jalisco area and state capital Guadalajara.

Spanish construction firm FCC is building the dam in association with fellow Spanish company Grupo Hermes and Mexican firm La Peninsular, while the consortium responsible for the aqueduct is comprised by Abengoa México, Abeinsa Infraestructuras Medio Ambiente, Sociedad Unipersonal, and Abeinsa Ingeniería y Construcción Industrial.

The project is designed to use up to 8.6m3/s of the water from the Verde river for potable water. Of this amount, 3.8m3/s will go to León, 3m3/s to Guadalajara and 1.8m3/s to Altos de Jalisco, with a total 1.4mn Mexicans expected to benefit, according to Conagua.

The El Zapotillo project will make it possible to transfer around 120mn m3 per year from the Verde River basin to the Lerma River basin, which is overexploited.


El El Zapotillo reservoir will have a storage capacity of 411Mm3 and the dam wall will be 80m high, while the aqueduct is approximately 140km long.

The project also includes a water treatment plant capable of processing 3.8m3/s, two pumping stations, a storage tank for around 100,000m3, and a macro distribution circuit covering 43km in the cities of León and Guanajuato, according to Conagua.

About 93.8% of the investment for the dam is coming from the federal budget and 6.2% from state resources.

Meanwhile, some 58.7% of the funding for the aqueduct, treatment plant and distribution circuit come from the private sector, with the remainder being provided by the national infrastructure fund.