The Andean region: Key aspects on the pollution of Titicaca Lake, still waiting for solutions

The Titicaca lake is the largest water body located in the Central Andes at an average altitude of 3,812 meters above sea level between the territories of Bolivia and Peru.

It has an area of 8,562 km ² of which 56% (4,772 km ²) correspond to Peru and 44% (3,790 km ²) to Bolivia and 1,125 km of coastline, its maximum depth is estimated at 281 m and is estimated the average depth of 107 m.

Its level is irregular and increases during the austral summer. Despite being called a RAMSAR site since 1997, was recently declared “Threatened Lake” due to the high organic and bacterial contamination caused by human activities such as mining, poor management and waste treatment and drains coming urban centers on the shores of this water body.

Due to the growth of areas of tourism, as the case of Copacabana (Bolivia), where the lack of sanitation and water treatment systems have been health problems in the swimming areas due to water pollution.

The inner bay of Puno (Peru) suffered organic and bacteriological pollution caused by wastewater from the city. This bay has developed a process of increasing eutrophication, pollution is expressed in the appearance of eutrophication processes, the main indicator is the duckweed.

The presence of Lemna or duckweed and other aquatic plants are bio-indicators of pollution, they are growing rapidly, covering the entire surface of the water due to excessive concentration of phosphates and nitrates in the  Titicaca. The plants, by covering the surface, causing death of fish and aquatic life found in the lake bottom. This, in turn, causes a very bad smell and the water lost its capacity for renewal.

With the lack of oxygen all that lives in the waters and the lake itself are dying. The lentils grow rapidly because the leaves are  buds that develop roots and separate. Spread with such speed and consistency that become difficult to eradicate.

It is known that one of the projects of the Municipality of Lima (Peru), is the construction of a wastewater treatment, aiming to reduce levels of pollution and negative environmental impacts that occur in the  Titicaca,  which is not yet implemented because there is no agreement on the location of this work. According to official sources the Peruvian government is working against illegal mining that is practiced in the district of Ananea because the waste (heavy metals) fall to the sides of which flow into the lake, eroding its bed.

Finally, the continuing reports of indiscriminate fishing by Peruvian and Bolivian citizens forced the Government of La Paz to take measures of this fact. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Unit of Bolivia is strengthened to address the illegal practice of fishing, given that many species of the lake are becoming extinct.

Official reports of endemic species of large size are the most sought after fishermen that trade in markets without any control, thus preventing their reproduction. Although binational agreements have been developed, in practice have not materialized solutions that really contribute to the preservation of the lake most important in the South American Andes.

Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA24

About ANCA24canada

Environmental, Ecologists and Conservationist news from the Americas
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