Water Tank Project in Cerro de las Tres Cruces Provokes Confrontation

Water Tank Project in Cerro de las Tres Cruces Provokes Confrontation

A series of seven wells to provide water to the upper and lower parts of San Miguel de Allende in the short term will be constructed on the banks of the Ignacio Allende dam. SAPASMA decided to build a tank with a capacity of 600 cubic meters (25mx5mx5m) to hold the water in the ritual area of Cerro de las Tres Cruces, or the Hill of the Three Crosses where, according to oral history, the Holy Cross has been venerated by local Catholics for at least three centuries. 


SAPASMA personnel began visits this year to buy plots of 20 meters by 20 meters in areas where hydrological studies showed water reserves, like San Marcos, San Marquitos, Flores de Begoña, Pantoja, and the lower part of Los Frailes. It is in those areas that the wells will be constructed. 


According to the inhabitants of the communities, the lands were acquired for no more than 400,000 pesos. In Don Diego, SAPASMA’s tactic was unsuccessful. Inhabitants told Atención that they decided not to sell the land as this could affect the well from which they are currently supplied. 


Francisco Jiménez Palacios, director of SAPASMA, told Atención that the water (approximately 300 liters per second) from those seven wells will be conducted through a network to the rear part La Parroquia subdivision. From there, it would be sent to a tank in Cerro de las Tres Cruces to be distributed to the eastern and western areas of San Miguel. He explained that SAPASMA wants to let the current wells remain idle in order for the aquifers to recharge. 


Are the wells guaranteed to supply water for the next 30 years? Jiménez’s answer to this question is, “Geohydrology is an imprecise science. We cannot know where the infiltration site is. It could be fossil waters. We are betting on 30 years with greater certainty because of infiltrations from the dam.” According to Jiménez, water is currently extracted from an average depth of about 300 meters.


The project, with an expected investment of 180 million pesos, would be ready in one year. However, a lack of attention to social issues around the project has sparked community members’ dissent. 


It is not the first controversy for SAPASMA this year. The first was related to an unaddressed complaint by people of Nuevo Pantoja about high water bills—an issue that led to road closures by that community and physical altercations between civilians and state riot police.


Now, unaware of the existence of an ancestral ritual site in Cerro de las Tres Cruces—at least that’s what agency officials said in a meeting with concerned community members—SAPASMA attempted to demolish a stairway where, for centuries, the faithful climbed the hill to venerate the Holy Cross, with the purpose of constructing the semi-buried tank. 


In a meeting held last week between devotees of the Holy Cross and SAPASMA officials, it was agreed that construction would stop until reaching a consensus between the agency and mayordomías, people in charge of organizing the festivities of the Holy Cross; a position acquired through inheritance or by democratic election among devotees of the surrounding communities and neighborhoods.


Community members assure that, in addition to being an archeological site, the area was also the place where the first tribes of old San Miguel lived and communicated with other inhabitants using smoke signals. The crosses were later placed and have been adored for at least 300 years by the inhabitants of the Guadiana neighborhood and rural communities.