Submission ID: SEM-03-003
Party concerned: Mexico
Date filed: May 23, 2003
Submission Status: Closed
Latest Update: January 23, 2013
The final factual record was publicly released.
The Submitters assert that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law with respect to the Lerma-Chapala-Santiago-Pac¡fico basin. According to the Submitters, this has resulted in serious environmental deterioration and uneven water distribution in the basin, as well as the risk that Lake Chapala and its migratory birds will eventually disappear. The Submitters allege that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente-LGEEPA) and the Environmental Impact Regulations thereunder, the National Water Law (Ley de Aguas Nacionales) and its Regulation, and the Internal Regulations of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Reglamento Interior de la Secretar¡a de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), by failing to exercise its authority to regulate use and distribution of water in the Lerma-Chapala-Santiago-Pac¡fico basin; to carry out inspections and monitoring; and to revoke water concessions and authorizations. The Submitters cite examples such as a proposed dam project on the Santiago River; informal agreements on water distribution; authorizations to establishgolf courses, soccer fields and tree plantations in the Lake Chapala basin; and pollution of the Santiago River. The Submitters assert that the public has participated in a number of consultations regarding the condition of the basin, with no known results, and they allege that there is an absence of government action for them to challenge before the administrative courts. According to the Submitters, this results in Mexico’s failure to effectively enforce the LGEEPA provisions related to ensuring effective citizen participation in Mexican environmental policy and citizen involvement in environmental protection.
Summary of the response provided by the Party:
In the first section of its response to the submission, the Mexican government argues why it considers that the submission should be disregarded, and states that part of its contents should be deemed confidential. It later argues that criteria for the sustainable use of water were considered in the Arcediano dam project, as the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretar¡a de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales-Semarnat) required the Jalisco state government, which undertook the project, to comply with the measures proposed in the environmental impact statement and the ruling thereon. As regards the Santiago River, the Party asserts that it has demonstrated compliance with the criteria for sustainable water use and aquatic ecosystems. It states that it intends to place the Arcediano dam curtain on the Santiago River because it has already been altered more than the better preserved Verde River. It states that the project seeks to address the matter of water quantity and quality, given that both rivers are polluted by the untreated municipal and industrial wastewater discharges they receive. With respect to citizen participation, the Party states that, from the start of the current administration, the public has had access to various forums, mediums and actions, for public participation in general and in environmental and natural-resource matters. As regards the systematic and ongoing monitoring of water quality, the Party notes that it has the National Water Quality Monitoring Network (Red Nacional de Monitoreo de la Calidad del Agua), which in the case of the Santiago River operates at 12 sites. It reports that the overall basin cleanup program contemplates a complementary cleanup program costing approximately 1.2 billion pesos. The Party further notes that the 2004-2005 fiscal year contemplates 23 investment proposals in the Lerma-Chapala-Santiago basin. It also asserts that the National Water Program (Programa Nacional Hidráulico) 2001-2006 defines the specific strategy of restoring and conserving water quality, and the strategy to achieve it requires the “continuous verification of compliance with quality standards, as well as appropriate monitoring of the different receiving bodies.” Mexico asserts that the CNA is in due compliance with this policy and the legal standard regarding inspections and oversight. The Party states that it considers that water distribution does not fall within the concept of “environmental laws” defined in the NAAEC, and therefore should not be subject to the submission. However, it included a section asserting that while the Basin Councils form part of the CNA, they are only supporting units and have no authority. They are a form of regional organization coinciding with one or more hydrological basins, enabling the CNA to administer water with user involvement. Their rulings are not compulsory until the authorities adopt or assume them. The response states that the authority continues to ensure the public interest and undertakes actions to recover and attain the sustainability of the basin, and for this purpose the federal government entered into a Coordination Agreement with the governors of the five states comprising such basin. The Agreement is based on four central themes: (i) institutional legal framework; (ii) measurement and information systems; (iii) sustainability and administration; and (iv) ecological rehabilitation.
Names and citations of the environmental laws in question
General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente-LGEEPA) and the Environmental Impact Regulations thereunder, the National Water Law (Ley de Aguas Nacionales) and its Regulation, and the Internal Regulations of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Reglamento Interior de la Secretar¡a de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales)
Fundación Lerma-Chapala-Santiago-Pacífico A.C. Sociedad Amigos del Lago de Chapala A.C. Instituto de Derecho Ambiental, A.C. Vecinos de la Comunidad de Juanacatlán, Jalisco Comité Pro-Defensa de Arcediano A.C. Amigos de la Barranca, A.C. Ciudadanos por el Medio Ambiente, A.C. AMCRESP, A.C. Red Ciudadana, A.C. Represented by: Dr. Raquel Gutiérrez Nájera
The Secretariat received a submission and began a preliminary analysis of it under the guidelines.
Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 28/05/2003
Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 23/05/2003
The Secretariat determined that the submission met the criteria of Article 14(1) and requested a response from the concerned government Party in accordance with Article 14(2).
Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 14 (1) and 14 (2) authored by Secretariat on 19/12/2003
The Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record.
Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 14 (3) authored by Mexico on 30/03/2004
Acknowledgement - Other document authored by Secretariat on 08/04/2004
The Secretariat informed Council that the Secretariat considers that the submission warrants development of a factual record.
Recommendation - Secretariat Notification to Council under Article 15(1) authored by Secretariat on 18/05/2005
The Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to develop a Factual Record.
Resolution - Council decision concerning the development of a Factual Record authored by Council on 30/05/2008
The Secretariat placed a work plan on its web site or otherwise made it available to the public and stakeholders.
Workplan - Overall workplan for Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 09/07/2008
The Secretariat posted a request for information relevant to the factual record on its web site.
Secretariat Information Request - Document related to the preparation of a Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 04/09/2008
The Secretariat submitted a draft factual record to Council, for a 45-day comment period on the accuracy of the draft.
The Secretariat received comments from Canada.
The Secretariat received comments from the United States.
The Secretariat received comments from Mexico.
The Secretariat submitted a final factual record to Council for Council's vote on whether to make the final factual record publicly available.
Council voted to instruct the Secretariat to make the final factual record publicly available.
Resolution - Council decision on whether the factual record will be made publicly available authored by Council on 22/01/2013
The final factual record was publicly released.
Final Factual Record - Final Factual Record authored by Secretariat on 09/10/2012