Bolivia’s Second Largest Lake Is Now A Desert.
|1 May 2016|
A lake conjures up an image of billions of gallons of water, aquatic life, a cool breeze, trees lapping at the edge maybe some water sports, birds nesting nearby. Lake Poopo, in the heart of Bolivia doesn't quite fit that image. It is today technically described as a vast dry ground with rich silt soil.
At just over 12,000 feet above sea level, the lake whilst only 8 to 10 feet deep, once covered 977 square miles. Today, Lake Poopo is now just a lake floor littered with hundreds of lonely, overturned and abandoned boats. It is now officialy designated, evaporated and scientists suggest that it may never return.
Lake Poopo once drew its water from Lake Titicaca from the River Desaguadero. Though the lake was salty this was due to lack of an outlet, the lake was habitat for an assorted varieties of aquatic species. All manner of species of fish swam down the river to the lake from the freshwater Lake Titicaca. That it once supported a thriving fishing community in the southwest of Bolivia, but now that community has lost their livelihood following the drying up of the Lake.
Who is to blame? Some environmentalists and local activist suggest that, there has been a blend of factors that played a significant part in the death of the lake. That the drying up of the lake could have been slowed if not fully controlled. The Bolivian government stands central to the lakes demise, in that they failed in regulating the use of water from the Lake`s main sources. Ignoring the mining companies’ strategies of diverting water to run their industries. With more than a 100 mining operations upstream, this includes the state owned mine Huanuni, rampant pollution seems to have been a major contributing factor to the lakes slow death.
Natural climatic factors such as the (the El Nino meteorological phenomenon) that significantly played great parts in the demise of the Lake Poopo. The recurrent El Nino has resulted in long periods of drought in the area. In a typical year, the wet seasons in Bolivia run from December to March and were characterized by heavy rains that increase the inflow of water from Desaguadero River. This expectation did not happen in the 2015-16 hence its attribution to the drying of the Lake.
Another factor in the lakes apparent desertification has been the diversion of water to farms for agriculture. Other scientists have associated the evaporation to the global warming results from the burning fossil fuels and other organic matters. The German glaciologist, Dirk Hoffman has put forward the notion that Lake Poopo is a picture of the future of climate change.