, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 266-278

Environmental Effects of Aquifer Overexploitation: A Case Study in the Highlands of Mexico

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There are several environmental processes occurring under aquifer overexploitation conditions. These processes include groundwater table decline, subsidence, attenuation and drying of springs, decrease of river flow, and increased pollution vulnerability, among others processes. Some of these effects have been observed on the Upper Basin of the Lerma River. The Lerma River begins in the SE of the Valley of Toluca at 2,600 m asl, in the wetland known as Lagoons of Almoloya del Río. This wetland is made up of a group of lagoons, which are an important aquatic system from an environmental point of view. The water inflow of this wetland is a discharge of springs, which occur between the fractured volcanic material of the mountain range and granular volcanic–continental deposits of the Valley of Toluca aquifer. The intensive exploitation of the Valley of Toluca aquifer to supply urban and industrial water to Mexico City and Toluca began in 1950 and is responsible for a steady decline of piezometric levels of 1–3.5 m/yr. Other effects of this exploitation—the drying of the wetland, the decrease of river flow and the land subsidence—caused serious ecological and social impacts. The authorities declared this aquifer as overexploited in order to reduce the exploitation and preserve the availability of water resources in this important region.