Do you have a whitewater rafting trip planned this summer in Mexico? Are you thinking about going tubing down the Tliapa River? Think again. The Tliapa and Tlacuapa rivers have joined the Atoyac River in mysteriously disappearing overnight to someplace other than Veracruz where they used to flow.
According to a report in the Latin American Herald Tribune, the Tliapa and Tlacuapa rivers begin in the mountains in central Veracruz in the cities of Chocaman and Calcahualco, approximately 18 km (11 miles apart). The rivers used to flow into the Seco River in the central city of Cordoba. That was before the holes opened up recently and drank them nearly dry.
The first sinkhole reportedly opened in an area called Puente de Piedra (Stone Bridge), upstream from where the rivers merge. After they join, the second hole opened 1 km away to continue the draining. Emergency management chief Tobias Carrillo Morales in nearby Tomatlan described the crisis:
The Tliapa and Tlacuapa rivers have now reduced their flow by up to 50 percent.
These appear to be small rivers but the rapid disappearance of water in any part of the world is disconcerting and a serious problem for both residents and wildlife. To make matters worse, this is the second such disappearance in Veracruz in less than two months.
The previous river disappearance in Veracruz occurred on February 28th, after residents of San Fermin heard a boom and felt the earth shake. The next morning, the Atoyac River was gone, having disappeared into a 30 meter by 20 meter (98 by 65 feet) crack in the bed. The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) reports that the river is flowing again after the crack was filled but conditions are ripe for another river-gulping hole to appear.
The Tliapa and Tlacuapa rivers are about 60 km (38 miles) from the Atoyac farther up in the mountains and the reports don’t describe what type of hole or crack they flowed into. Tobias Carrillo Morales describes the effects of the disappearance on residents:
[They] were peasants who were aware of the lack of water, because how to use it to their crops, they noticed that the runway was very low.
Three rivers disappear in less than two months. It doesn’t take a farmer to know that Veracruz has a serious problem. Is Veracruz like a certain state in the U.S. that ignores the water problems of poor people? Let’s hope officials figure it out before the state dries up.