Using Remote Sensing and GIS Tools to Assess the Impact of Agricultural Practices on Public Health in Mexico’s Lerma-Chapala Watershed

Diarrheal disease mortality in children under 5 years of age. The mortality rate has decreased in the five states shown from 2001-2007, with the largest decrease experienced in Guanajuato.

Diarrheal disease mortality in children under 5 years of age. The mortality rate has decreased in the five states shown from 2001-2007, with the largest decrease experienced in Guanajuato.

Team Location: Wise, Virginia

Authors: Martha Lyz Cantú Domínguez, Rebecca Tate, Lindsey Honaker, Dante Isaac Orta Alemán, Armando Enriquez.

Advisors/Mentors: Dr. DeWayne Cecil, Yanina Colón, Giovanni Colberg.

Abstract: The intensity and the spatial extent of agricultural activities may adversely affect watershed processes, particularly stream hydrology and water chemistry. Moreover, it has further impacts on human health through water-transmitted diseases. The Lerma-Chapala Basin, one of the most productive agricultural regions of Mexico, has been facing excessive surface water use for agricultural and industrial activities in the last 20 years. Also, Lake Chapala is the main water supply to the city of Guadalajara. Imbalanced water of the Chapala Lake and excessive contamination of the Lerma River due to runoff and wastewater discharge are occurring within the basin. Currently, the government is seeking to improve water management in the basin and empower water treatment plants to improve water quality in the watershed. This study focuses on using remote sensing and GIS technologies to analyze and map the changing landscape of the Lerma-Chapala Watershed primarily affected by agricultural activities. The main approach is to use the landscape development intensity index (LDI) to understand and evaluate land cover and land use change within the watershed. In addition, Better Assessment Science Integrating point & Non-point Sources (BASINS) software will be used to analyze watershed pollution. Finally, all of the results obtained from BASINS and the LDI will be integrated into GIS to analyze and investigate water-transmitted disease occurrence within the watershed.

Video transcript available here.