Lake Chapala (Spanish: Lago de Chapala) is located in the Central Plateau of Mexico, between the states of Jalisco and Michoacan. It is the largest lake in Mexico. The lake is large but shallow. The Lerma River feeds the east of the lake, and the Santiago River flows out from the northeast corner.
The surrounding scenery of Lake Chapala is beautiful; the climate is pleasant. Today, Lake Chapala has developed into the most famous lakeside tourist destination in Mexico and has attracted many foreign tourists in recent years. Lying 30 miles (48 km) south-southeast of Guadalajara, it is easily accessible by highway, railroad, or air.
Lake Chapala was once an important habitat for native species and millions of species and millions of migratory birds. Still, the rapid growth of surrounding cities has nearly wiped it out. Over the past 30 years, large amounts of water have been pumped from the lake to supply water to Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, and several nearby towns. This post will share more facts about Lake Chapala.
Size And Description of Lake Chapala
Lake Chapala is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico. Most are located in the state of Jalisco, with a small part in the state of Michoacan. Despite its size, the lake is very shallow and susceptible to water hyacinth infestations. The scenic setting, pleasant climate, picturesque villages dotting the shores, and good fishing make the lake a popular resort and, increasingly by the late 20th century, a retirement center for U.S. citizens. The largest city nearby is Guadalajara, and the important towns by the lake are Ocotlan and Poncitlan.
The lake is fed by the Río Lerma, Río Zula, Río Huaracha, and Río Duero rivers, and drained by the Rio Grande de Santiago. The water would normally flow northwest into the Pacific Ocean. No water has flowed out of the lake in over 30 years due to a fall in incoming water supply from the Lerma River.
Lake Chapala Size
Lake Chapala lies on the Mexican Plateau at 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level. Lake Chapala is Mexico's largest lake, measuring approximately 77 km (48 miles) east-west by 16 km (10 miles) north-south and covering an area of 1,080 square km (417 square miles). It is a shallow lake with a mean depth of 7 meters (23 feet) and a maximum of 10.5 meters (34 feet).
|Surface elevation||1,800 m (6,000 ft)|
|Max. length||77 km (48 mi)|
|Max. width||16 km (10 mi)|
|Surface area||1,080 sq km (417 sq mi)|
|Average depth||7 m (23 ft)|
|Max. depth||10.5 m (34 ft)|
Water Resources Development
In recent history, the lake's size has continued to change dramatically. In the 19th century, the lake stretched almost 20 kilometers farther east. The construction of an 80 kilometers dike and drainage system in 1908 attempted to capture a large portion of the lake for agricultural use. Due to successive floods and reconstruction of the dike, the watershed's land eventually converted to permanent farmland. And a few consecutive years of poor rainfall dramatically decreased the lake's water level. There is no doubt the decline of the lake's size has destroyed an important ecological role of this once important marshland.
Many small towns are established near Lake Chapala. People living near the lake live comfortably and leisurely, enjoying the beautiful natural scenery and fresh fish brought by the lake. American white pelicans can also be found in the lake waiting for birds; in addition, there are a large number of native plants and animals; they live comfortably in or around the lake, sharing these natural waters. Although water level and quality improved due to water treatment plants along the Lerma River in recent decades, in 2017, the water quality of Lake Chapala was assessed as a risk to public health.