Lake Chapala Mexico
789 of 1114

Lake Chapala, Mexico

January 18, 2006
This MERIS (MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) shows Lake Chapala (light green area lower center image), which is the largest natural lake in Mexico, located 42 km south of the metropolitan area of Guadalajara (light grey area north of the lake).

Lake Chapala is part of the Mexico's largest catchment basin, the Rio Lerma-Lago de Chapala-Rio Santiago system. Half of the inflow to the lake comes via the Rio Lerma, Mexico's longest river (965 km), originating in the Cordillera Anahuac (Nevado de Toluca) to the east.

The lake outflows into the Rio Santiago, which can be seen here as it flows northwest through the Western Sierra Madre toward the Pacific Ocean, which it reaches at the port of San Blas.

The lake and the catchment basin have contributed to making this area among Mexico's most active economically: it is home to 6500 industries and a significant portion of Mexico's agricultural exports originates here. Guadalajara, with a population of some 3.7 million (2000, the metropolitan area), derives over half of its water supply from Lake Chapala. According to a water pollution control case study prepared in 1997 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, The Lerma-Chapala Basin, Mexico , the area was facing serious pollution problems due to industrial and agricultural activity. A waste water treatment program was started in 1994, and by 1997, according to the WHO report, 85% of Chapala's water was of good quality, 15% of adequate quality. Soil erosion and waste water dumping by the chemical, petrochemical, and food processing industries still continue to be significant problems; 150 second- and third-stage water treatment plants are being built by the Mexican Comisin Nacional del Agua to preserve this important resource. The light green color of the lake in this MERIS image is indicative of significant sediment levels.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Envisat
  • Instrument: MERIS
  • Acquisition: 31-Jan-2004
  • Orbit nr: 10043
  • Center coordinates: lat. 20.33, lon. -102.10

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