Colima and Jalisco join forces to construct new dam

by Susan Dearing

The Mexican federal government, along with the states of Colima and Jalisco are collaborating on a joint project, El Naranjo dam, to be located on the Marabasco-Cihuatlan river 32.5 km. (20 miles) from where the river empties into the Pacific Ocean, or 22.5 km. (14 miles) from Cihuatlan, Jalisco. The river forms a natural border between the two states.

The Comisión Nacional del Agua (National Water Commission) will pay 70% of the cost, while the remaining 30% will be split equally between Colima and Jalisco. Cost of the entire project will be in the neighborhood of 714.7 million pesos, or approximately $55.8 million dollars.

The purpose of the dam is to generate power, provide irrigation to more than 800 farming families along the river, and prevent flooding down river as well. The dam will hold 135 million cubic meters (35.6 million gallons) of water, with its wall of 256 linear meters (840 linear feet) in length, and its height of 85 meters (280 feet).

Please click on photos to enlarge

New road under construction Marabasco River Valley to be irrigated by dam River June 2009
Road cut through mountain Cattle on old road Local men work on road Cement trucks, construction  trailers

When finished (approximately the end of December 2010), it will benefit the Ejido (land jointly owned by a cooperative) communities of El Charco, Marabasco, El Chavarín, El Centinela, Pedro Núñez, Camotlán de Miraflores, Don Tomás, Huiscolote, and Veladero de los Otates.

The overall project includes the dam, making a pit above the dam to hold water, a spillway for overflow, a spillway basin (almost as large as the man-made lake above), drainage canals which can be used for irrigation, reinforcement of the clay banks along the river, and an access road with 2 tunnels.

New road to top of dam, river below Beginning of lower basin Heavy equipment Water truck to keep dust down

More than 7,500 hectares (18,533 acres) will be affected by the project, 3,410 hectares (8,426 acres) in Colima and 4,090 (10,106 acres) in Jalisco.

According to the Colima secretary of rural development, more than 1.5 million cubic meters of rock, and 800,000 cubic meters of soil will be utilized. It is estimated that dump trucks will make more than 200,000 trips for the project.

River from lower basin Locals enjoy river near construction zone

Driving directions: Take Hwy. 200 north to Cihuatlan. Cross the bridge and take your first right. Follow the road along the river about 20 km. Take a right at the guard gate and follow the dirt road across the river (no bridge), and continue up the hill. A 4-wheel drive is recommended. The old part of the road has washboarding in places, although the last half is new and in good shape. It is not recommended to try this trip after a heavy rain.