The Santiago River is one of the most important rivers in Western Mexico.
It originates near Lake Chapala, in the municipality of Ocotlán and travels 562 kilometers to its mouth in the Pacific Ocean. Its basin covers more than 76 thousand square kilometers, and covers parts of the states of Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Guanajuato and Durango. Before reaching Guadalajara, the Santiago River forms the Salto de Juanacatlán waterfall, formerly known as the Mexican Niagara.
Since the 1970s, the rapid expansion of urban areas and the industrial corridor between Ocotlán and El Salto have been putting increasing pressure on the river.
Currently, more than 7.5 million people live in the Santiago River Basin, the majority concentrated in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.
Since then, high levels of pollution have been reported in the Santiago River due to discharges from cities and factories. And this has been increasing.
In a 2011 study by the Mexican Institute of Water Technology, more than 1,090 synthetic chemicals were detected in the river. This study also found that between 87 and 94% of industrial effluents failed to comply with the official standard that regulates the discharge of pollutants into waterways. This standard, in itself, is also very lax and regulates few substances.
Other official studies report that in the Santiago River there are heavy metals such as lead, chromium, mercury, cobalt and arsenic, as well as toxic organic compounds such as benzene and toluene, among many others. These substances are invisible to our eyes, but they navigate the waters of the Santiago River, polluting everything in their path.
As part of an official response, two large wastewater treatment plants began operating, the Ahogado plant in 2012 and the Agua Prieta plant in 2014. These plants are used to treat part of the sewage of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, however, they cannot treat toxic pollutants. In fact, these plants only receive domestic discharges, not the effluent of many factories that discharge directly into the river or its tributaries.
For the Santiago River to recover, it must stop being used as a sewer. For its cleanup to be achieved, important changes are required that involve both the government and the private sector. Current standards are insufficient and levels of impunity are high. Santi needs everyone.
We invite you to get to know Santi, to understand what is happening and be part of the path to Santi’s recovery. For us and for those to come.
The exhibition ¿Conoces a Santi? can visit your school.
It is an environmental education and communication project in which volunteers, students, teachers, academics and representatives of civil organizations participate.
The objective is for us to get to know the Santiago River, the problems it faces due to the pollution of cities and industries, and to participate in creative ways for the recovery of the Santiago River.
It is a traveling exhibition of photographs, infographics and videos of students, young people and volunteers from civil organizations.
¿Conoces a Santi?
focuses on the rights of children and young people, while also providing information about rivers, pollution and how we can get involved in solutions.
What do you like and what would you like to see changed in your community? Take a photo, write a poem, story or song and be part of ¿Conoces a Santi? If you are interested in having the exhibition visit your school, we invite you to get in touch.
You can generate change from your home, saving water and avoiding use of toxic substances in your daily activities. Chemicals are consumed in homes that end up in the drains.
We also invite you to get informed and get involved in the activities that many citizens and organizations are carrying out for the recovery of the river and to protect the health of the population.