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Lake Profile


General Information

Country Mexico
Latitude 20° 14' 0" (20.2333)
Longitude -103° 0' 0" (-103.0000)
River Basin Lerma


 Chapala global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Chapala locator map
 Latin America & Mexico Biodiversity Conservation Priorities
 Lakes of Mexico
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)
 USAID-supported Lake Basin Management and Biodiversity Conservation Technical Assistance 2003-2004 (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Description Historically, the total volume limit of Lake Chapala was 8 cubic kilometers, however prior to 2003 the lake experienced devastating losses leaving volume as low as 1.1 cubic kilometers.

The 2003 rainy season greatly replensihed the lake's water supply, increasing the volume to almost 4.3 cubic kilometers. Currently, the lake holds approximately 4.1 cubic kilometers of water.

Volume 4.10 km3
Surface Area 900.00 km2
Residence Time 10.0 years
Catchment Catchment size: 52,500.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 58:1


Economic Value The Lerma-Chapala basin provides irrigation water for 800,000 hectares of agricultural land, produces 13% of the total national production and 9% of the gross national product.
Major Cities Guadalajara
Population 10,000,000 (0)

Watershed Management

Description A common vision has not been reached, and a watershed action plan is not in place.
Issues Lake Chapala has shrunk dramatically over the last decade, due to excessive extraction of water upstream for irrigation, drinking water and industrial use. Large water savings are possible with reform of current agricultural methods.
Other Issues Hydropower
Specific Contaminants Industrial
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality

Water Quality

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Global 200
WWF Freshwater Eco-Region - Chapala
WWF Conservation Status Priority I
Species of Concern
Endemism High
Biological Distinctiveness Globally outstanding


University of Guadalajara, Mexico

LakeNet Programs

LakeNet 2000: A Dialogue on Participatory Watershed Management


LakeNet News, Winter 2003-2004 (PDF)  Newsletter. Final. English. 12/20/2003.


Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Freshwater Biodiversity of Latin America and the Caribbean: A Conservation Assessment
ILEC Database
Shrinking Lake Chapala: New images from NASA (2003)
Society of Friends del Lago (Sociedad Amigos del Lago Chapala)


4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
1/14/2004 - Friends of Lake Chapala challenge Mexican government
6/2/2003 - CEC receives submission on Lerma-Chapala-Santiago-Pacifico basin

Additional Data Sources

Abell, R. and D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, P. Hurley et al. 2000. Freshwater ecoregions of North America. Island Press. Washington, D.C.
Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.

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