The Baja California Norte water commission (CEA) has decided to extend the Rio Colorado-Tijuana aqueduct to guarantee urgently needed water supplies to coastal populations due to lack of progress in a project to build a cross-border water pipeline with the United States, El Financiero reported.
The 100km cross-border aqueduct would pump 16-20 cu m/s and ensure water supply to Baja California for the next 24 years. However, the project has been in the pipeline for three years, and Mexican authorities say the US government has been dragging its heels over a decision, which reportedly should be made by the end of the year, the newspaper said.
As an alternative solution Mexican authorities have decided to add an extra 67km onto the 140km Río Colorado-Tijuana aqueduct, which would guarantee water supply to the Baja California coast, whose population is growing at 6% per year (the fastest-growing region in Mexico), until at least 2013, according to CEA director Leonel Vizcarra.
"This water project is necessary because the aqueduct, built in 1983-84, has a useful life of up to 2006," Vizcarra said.
Extending the aqueduct 67km with a width of 54-60 inches would cost US$200mn. Works would also include expanding the canal that feeds the pipe.
The project would expand the aqueduct's capacity to 5.3 cu m. per second from the current 4 cu m. per second.
Federal and state government officials will meet next week to discuss how to split financing and works should begin next year to be completed in 2005.
CEA is currently compiling a study predicting Baja California's water needs until 2035 and is studying building a completely new aqueduct. A project study will be ready in 2005 and if approved, construction of the first stage could begin in 2006 and finish in 2001. The second stage would be completed in 2023.
The new aqueduct would be linked to Ensenada where the construction of two desalination plants is under study and which would serve as a back up for water supply if rains were low.