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  • Writer's picture Michaela & Ricardo

Lake Chapala: Facts OR Fiction?

In the last few years, there has been a slur campaign on social media against Lake Chapala and nothing spreads faster than bad news, whether it's true or not! One of the people who started this seems bent on selling his book and getting advertising money from his YouTube Channel. The other is a Government of China Communist run news agency which likes to make headlines out of nothing. It's well done and as we all like to believe in the news, gobble up these myths and don't look any further for the truth.

So what's the real truth and what's just made up baloney designed to make someone money? Let's look at some of the common hyperbole out there and put it into perspective.

The Lake is Polluted

If I see this comment again on social media I'm going to scream. This blanket statement is taken 'as is' without thought and is totally untrue.

So what's fact and what's fiction regarding the health of Lake Chapala? Unfortunately, this is difficult to ascertain as even real scientists disagree. However, from a laypersons point of view the lake seems to be quite healthy and it is not what the social media rumor mill makes it out to be.

I don't think there is any argument that there were a certain amount of heavy metals coming in via the Lerma River at one point in time in the 80's and 90's. This major river empties into the other end of the lake 40 miles away from Ajijic/Chapala and there are now more than 200 treatment plants along it's 466 mile course.

Sewage is treated in Ajijic, San Antonio, Jocotepec and Chapala at sewage treatment plants and coliform counts are done routinely with levels well below any dangerous standard..

The lake was illegally stocked with largemouth (black) bass a few years ago and they have grown tremendously in the past years where bass up to 10 lb's are now being taken by anglers. In fact, the lake has been on the bass tournament circuit and is primed to be one of the best bass lakes in Mexico.

I have never seen or heard of any fish kills (dead fish washed up on shore) which would indicate a seriously ill lake. Local fishermen still fish the lake with nets and sell their catch to the locals who consume them. The last I heard from the government is that pregnant women should not consume fish from the lake more than once per week.

The kayak club is very active, going out on the lake 3 times per week. As part of the initiation to make sure that you can take care of yourself, you are required to roll out of the kayak and get back in. I have never heard of anyone getting ill from this as some people would make you think.

Local Mexicans also swim (more like wade) in the lake. Swimming is discouraged in general because there are an abundance of underwater hazards such as trees, abandoned nets, barbed wire, posts, etc and due to the tannin stained color of the water you cannot see them.

I see people paddle boarding on the lake as well as water skiing and sailing. So there is lots of activities happening on the lake unlike what is said on social media.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how polluted or not the lake is and how important this is to you. There have been lots of studies done on the lake so if you are a scientist, you can have a good time wading (pun intended) through all the information. I have been gathering over the past year studies on the lake and previous "State of the Lake" Reports and can share them with you. Just contact me through this website.

You're going to get killed if you move to Mexico

Another blanket statement that means nothing. The Lake Chapala area is one of the safest places you can choose to live. Having said that, we did have a spat of crime in the area right before and after the Federal elections. This occurs in Mexico every time there is an upheaval in political powers and lasts a few months. Organized crime also goes through it's power struggles during the same time period and if you were involved in the drug industry you were at risk as rival factions fought for territory. However, this has long passed and the area is quiet again. As to the matter of the Canadian getting shot execution style during that same time period (2018), we later heard that he owed money in regards to a house he was building and that it had nothing to with drugs or anything else. What the real truth of this murder is we'll never really know.

Your biggest threat here (like anywhere in the world) is theft. Burglaries do happen and it is best to take a proactive approach and have good perimeter security and some interior security as well. Fortunately, these are crimes of opportunity are rare and almost always occur while the owner is outside of the home.

If you have not visited Lake Chapala before then you definitely would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not check it out. Crime occurs everywhere in the world and the Lake Chapala area is a safe place to live so long as you don't attract attention to yourself by waving lots of money around or dissing people off.

There are many great reasons why Lake Chapala has been an expat community for so long, most notably, climate, cost of living, amenities, and proximity to a major international airport; and if you do not want to be with any expats, you can simply live in one of the nearby towns 10-15 minutes in either direction such as San Nicolas, Chapala, San Juan Cosala, or Jocotopec.

I encourage you to come for a couple weeks and see what you think. I'll be happy to introduce you to the area. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Michaela & Ricardo are your FULL SERVICE Real Estate Agents. Along with our Retirement Seminars, our over 20 years of combined experience Lakeside, and our network of area Professionals, we help guide you to from beginning to forever in your Retirement Journey to Lake Chapala, Mexico.

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Juna Jinsei-Author
Juna Jinsei-Author
Jun 16, 2023

Watching the sunrise and set over Lake Chapala is like viewing a piece of heaven. I have an excellent view from my home as I sit on the patio January through December without a chill in the air; serene with my cup of wine and loved ones. My family in the U. S. always ask: "But isn't it dangerous in Mexico?" I'm sure there are pockets near the border where Americans keep the drug lords occupied by buying their goods, but as I tell them, I wouldn't live in Detroit, MI, Birmingham, AL, or St. Louis, MO; all huge murder capital cities in the USA. either. Here . . . in this little piece of paradise . . . m…

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