Pollution and damage grow in the only natural lake in Honduras

Pollution and damage grow in the only natural lake in Honduras

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By Efrain Molina

More than five thousand hectares of forest are deforested, four thousand head of cattle graze in the wetlands and eight communities built within the area of ​​the basin are part of the panorama that is ending with Lake Yojoa.

This protected area has lost 10 meters of water storage capacity in a period of 10 years. A measurement made by geologists in 2002, when the depth level was 35 meters, indicates that by 2010 it dropped to 26.5 meters. The locals claim that every day the lake is lost more.

Gerardo Well, a biologist from the Association of Protecting Municipalities of the Lake (Amuprolago), said that countless problems continue to damage the source, including deforestation due to the cultivation of coffee and the waste of that grain, livestock, tilapia production and sewage generated by thousands of residents of the communities around that body of water. “We have adopted a management plan with the support of the State. That gives us a guideline that we intervene in the sectors to try to reduce pollutants ”, he explained.

The actions are developed by Amuprolago, made up of the municipalities of Las Vegas, Ilama and Gualala, in Santa Bárbara; San Francisco and Santa Cruz, in Cortés, and San José, in Comayagua. These authorities give a monthly fee to maintain the campaign to protect the lake.


Well added that in recent years they have made good progress in protecting the lake, as in the case of the area where restaurants that sell fried fish are located.

According to the biology professional, 67 traps have been installed to retain the fat produced by those businesses.

Only in 2013, approximately 100 tons of fat were collected with the use of this system. That oil that used to be in the lake is now sold to a power generating company.

The expert indicated that among the biggest polluters are farms and coffee cultivation and, to a lesser extent, tilapia production.

The Ampac mining company, with facilities in Santa Bárbara, built several oxidation piles in which it treats the wastewater that then falls without contaminants into the lake.

Alexis Oliva, CEO of Amuprolago, said that the University of Colorado, United States, is preparing a study on the discharge capacity at the site.

“Despite the limitations we work with, Amuprolago continues to develop training and orientation programs for the population on the correct way to live with natural resources. He added that by having the Colorado study, it will be known whether cattle grazing will be allowed around the lake. Oliva explained that they are also working on the construction of services with a septic tank so that the latrines, which are unsanitary and cause high pollution, gradually disappear.

This program receives funds from the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF) through Protected Areas and the municipalities integrated into Amuprolago and Acuafinca. "All this waste and what livestock generates cause leutrification, which promotes a high production of algae, which damages the water," he said.

Alex Vallejo, head of the ICF's northwestern Protected Areas zone, acknowledged that much remains to be done to protect Lake Yojoa. It adds that the lack of resources in the Government is one of the limitations that disrupts protection efforts. “We do what we can. We have signed several cooperation agreements between organizations united to protect the lake.

Unfortunately there is not enough money to move faster on that plan. We do not have enough equipment or personnel for these tasks ”. He pointed out that the good price of coffee has made several non-governmental institutions support the producers of the bean, who are expanding their operations and, therefore, the situation becomes more serious due to deforestation and the fall of sewage in the tributary .

Felipe Márquez, director of the Lenca Yojoa fishing group, said that they are also helping to stop the damage of this paradisiacal place. “I am a native of this place. 20 years ago, the water reached the CA-5 highway, between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. Today we sadly see how the lake level has receded due to the large number of uncontrolled activities. We demand that the State designate more budget to continue with this campaign, ”said the fisherman.

Roberto Pineda, mayor of Santa Cruz, said that they are not going to faint to reduce pollutants in that tourist place. The lake is maintained by the tributaries which feed them, but their level has decreased.

Information from Amuprolago establishes that, on July 20, the low water level was about to cause the temporary closure of the Cañaveral power station.

"We still have time to save the Lake"

There is still time to use new programs to reduce the pollution of Lake Yojoa. The source damage is done. Here it only remains to prevent the activities that damage it from continuing; for example, the grazing of cattle on the banks, the lack of treatment of the honey water produced by coffee, the vigilance so that the companies that produce tilapia comply with the prevention measures dictated by the Government.

This is the time to come together more. The work of Amuprolago and various State entities has been very beneficial. Thanks to it, pollutants in the water have been substantially reduced. The contribution of the communities is necessary.

The Press

Video: Lecture 15: Impacts of Modern Agriculture on Global Climate (June 2022).


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