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The Splash Case: Confusion Remains

Fernando García, director del SAPASMA

By Jesús Aguado

About the Splash waterpark and Veneros de San Miguel situation, there is still confusion. On one hand, the developers from Inmobiliaria RIACE Real Estate say that they have all the permits for constructing and opening the water park as well as for dividing and urbanizing Veneros. On the other hand, in the local administration headed by Ricardo Villarreal, he says that there are permits, yet the secretary of the city council, Gonzalo González, commented that the file is not complete, as did Abelardo Quero, director of the Urban Development Department.

The source and the concern

The “problem” detonated when Splash Silao turned 20 years old. The owners celebrated and held a press conference where they announced the construction and future opening of Splash San Miguel. The confusion emerged when the State Secretariat of  Tourism sent a press release where they assured that the water park would have dolphins and seals along with recreational spaces of the latest generation—featuring toboggans, pools, children’s areas, a spa with saunas, and other services. The press release remarked that the dolphins would be for interacting with attendees “for fun” or for therapy.  After that, articles were published by the media; that led some activists and ecologists of San Miguel to sign a letter as Observatorio Ciudadano on the website The digital letter is addressed to the city council, requesting them to halt the water park—with or without dolphins. The letter was never handed over physically to the city council, said Gonzalo González, and in addition it is a federal topic. The administration, said González, cannot authorize or deny the permits for having dolphins or seals; only the federation can.  Others were concerned about the lack of water in the upper area of the city as well as for water wasted by the park.

The owners say: we have the permits

The permits of division and urbanization for Veneros de San Miguel, a housing development that will have 1,200 plots in its first stage to shelter up to 5.5 habitants (per plot), were granted on February 18 this year with eight votes of the city council headed by Mauricio Trejo. The city council approved the change of land use from agricultural to H2 (commercial, habitable, and equipment). Later on March 21, the same city council approved the construction of Splash. RIACE representatives handed Atención the copies of the permits.

The local administration says: there are permits but incomplete

When Atención interviewed Abelardo Quero, director of the Urban Development Department, he said that the developers were summoned by his department in order to check their permits since the file in the administration archives is incomplete. The deadline for the developers to prove the legality of the water park was Thursday, November 19. Gonzalo González, secretary of the city council, remarked that this administration was not against the investment but that it had to be legal; he also reiterated what Quero had said, that documentation was not complete in the archives.

On the other hand, Mayor Ricardo Villarreal said in an interview, “There are permits. Some are for construction, but this administration has not granted any permits. We are analyzing the documents.” He assured that the former public servants (from the 2012-2015 administration) took out boxes full of documents from the administrative building, and the lack of information makes the analysis more complicated.

Fernando García, director of SAPASMA (Potable Water System), highlighted that the company did not have a water study; hence they would not be able to open. The denial of the feasibility dates from October 9 of this year.

There won’t be dolphins

Carlos Koloffon, representative of the company, assured Atención that they never thought of bringing dolphins to San Miguel because the area is too arid, but he remarked that they thought about a didactic aquarium that would include a manta ray, sharks, and other sea species, plus the recreational equipment.

He highlighted that according to the law they do not need the water feasibility because they have a well that can provide water for the park and the development, and SAPASMA ought not to provide water.

In addition, Koloffon said that there will not be a waste of water because the liquid is self-cleaned while it is in motion, along with some chemicals that they use. The water can be there for years, he remarked. When they change the water, remarked Koloffon, it will be treated in a water treatment plant and later it will be used for irrigating the green areas.

Veneros has a permit for 4,100 plots, but Koloffon made it clear that in its first stage it will have only 1,100. Depending on the results, the project can be continued or modified.  The permits granted were handed over to the administration on November 18, and since then, Inmobiliaria RIACE has been waiting for a response.

Last minute

Finally on Tuesday, November 24, Abelardo Quero, director of the Urban Development Department told Atención that they looked over the documentation for Splash and they have all the permits. Quero made it clear that the developers, who also are constructing the housing development Cumbres de San Miguel, have just the permits for the second phase of seven and they were granted by the previous administration.

Gonzalo González, secretary of the city council, commented that on Wednesday he may hold a meeting with Carlos Koloffon, who never talked with the members of that city council before. González said again “we are not against the investment but it has to be legal.” On the other hand González remarked that they finally received a letter from Observatorio Ciudadano against the water park.

Secretary González did not discard that other files could be uncomplete in the administration and for that reason they are requesting to the developers to present all their permits in order to avoid misunderstandings.


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