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By MARK LORENZANA

As an extreme drought grips Nuevo León, a state in the northeast region of Mexico — making water increasingly scarce — thieves have resorted to illegally tapping the biggest water reservoir in the state, El Cuchillo Dam.

The water crisis in Nuevo León has worsened in the last six months that its state government, headed by Governor Samuel García, has shortened the rationing of its water supply in the Monterrey metropolitan area down to six hours daily, among other measures.

On Monday, June 13, the state government discovered that thieves had illegally diverted water from El Cuchillo Dam to a ranch. García has ordered the closure of the ranch, the leaks to be fixed and the stolen water to be diverted into the Monterrey metropolitan area to benefit its residents.

“These bandits punctured the pipeline three times and filled the ranch with water from the dam,” García said in a video call from the ranch where a state operation was ongoing.

El Cuchillo dam, according to García, is the main source of water in Monterrey, the capital and largest city of Nuevo León. The dam supplies about 5,000 liters per second, almost half of the 13,000 liters consumed by the Monterrey metropolitan area.

The ranch, which is near a highway — and whose owner has not been identified — has used the stolen water for tilapia ponds.  García said that the state government has detected six ranches in the area that have benefitted from diverted water.

“I’m going to storm these ranches, and we’re going to catch those who are stealing water,” the governor said.

On Thursday, June 9, García — a member of the Citizens’ Movement Party — traveled to Mexico City and met with Adán Augusto López, head of the Secretariat of the Interior (SeGob) and asked for help to solve the water crisis.

Mexico’s National Water Commission (Conagua) was then instructed by the federal government to divert water to Nuevo León to alleviate the situation.

García has been constantly criticized on social media for his handling of the crisis. He has insisted, however, that the person responsible for the current situation is former Governor Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez Calderón — who is currently on house arrest and facing two separate criminal charges — for omitting measures that could have prevented the water shortage.

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