Faced with a complaint of excess lead in Lake Tota, authorities advance sampling in the area

The Minambiente team, IDEAM, CAR Cundinamarca and Corpoboyacá took 11 water quality samples at various points in this ecosystem. Photo: Minambiente

On November 4, the Fourth Sectional Prosecutor’s Office of Tunja presented an expert report which revealed levels of lead toxic for human consumption in Lake Tota.

Faced with this, Diego Fernando Trujillo Marín, Deputy Attorney for Environmental and Agrarian Affairs, and Alicia López Alfonso, 32nd Judicial Agrarian and Environmental Attorney of Boyacá, asked suspend the supply of water for human consumption that is derived from Lake Tota to the municipalities of Sogamoso, Nobsa, Aquitania, Iza, Tota, Cuítiva and Firavitoba, in the department of Boyacá.

“It was established the finding of lead parameters that exceed the tolerance limits above 95 times in accordance with Resolution 3382 of 2015 for surface waters, placing human health at risk for toxicity factors “said the report presented to the Prosecutor’s Office

Lake Tota is located 34 km south of Sogamoso, approximately 200 km northwest of Bogotá, the country's capital.  Photo: WikiCommons / Petruss.

Lake Tota is located 34 km south of Sogamoso, approximately 200 km northwest of Bogotá, the country’s capital. Photo: WikiCommons / Petruss.

Well, after the request of the Attorney General, the Ministry of the Environment, Ideam, CAR Cundinamarca and Corpoboyacá began visits to the water reserve, with the aim of carrying out new analyzes.

The director of Integral Management of the Minambiente Water Resources, Fabián Caicedo, assured that the necessary measures are being taken and all the processes are being carried out to review the information obtained from the samples. Which in turn will allow the roadmap to be drawn with solutions in the medium and long term.

“From the Ministry of the Environment We are strengthening the institutional framework with pilot projects with the peasants who live in the area, with onion growers and, of course, we are here in the framework of the institutional strengthening that we have been carrying out in the area. We will make the necessary decisions based on a wide spectrum of dataadded the official on the website of the Environment Ministry.

For his part, Omar Vargas Martínez, deputy director of Ideam, stated:

“We came at the request of the Ministry of the Environment, Ideam is an attached Institute and in cases where there are possible effects on the health of ecosystems and bodies of water, we have responsibilities in relation to the evaluation we carry out. We are accompanying the regional authorities to carry out a specific sampling in some sites that were prioritized”.

El Tiempo was able to hear testimonies from residents of the area, who assured that pollution has always been discussed, but nobody has done anything about it.

“The authorities have never tried to decontaminate the lake and determine where the contamination is coming from. Now, that they say that it has lead is serious, because all the towns depend on that lagoon “, César Villamizar, a farmer from Aquitaine who gathers onion, told the national newspaper.

With a surface area close to 55 square kilometers, Tota is the largest lake in Colombia and the second navigable lake located at the highest altitude in South America (3,015 meters above sea level).  Photo: Wikicommons / Petruss

With an area close to 55 square kilometers, the Tota lake is the largest lake in Colombia and the second navigable lake located at the highest altitude in South America (3,015 meters above sea level). Photo: Wikicommons / Petruss

As reported by El Tiempo, the Boyacá judicial attorney has the hypothesis that the lead found in the water reserve, “It comes from the excessive and irregular use of chicken manure that is used as fertilizer in crops, especially onions; the mismanagement of human excrement; trout farming and the uncontrollable use of pesticides and agrochemicals “. This combination of elements would be what would have with a lead overload to this important water supplier.

In turn, Attorney Trujillo Marín, assured that The important thing is that the situation does not focus on the samples presented by the Prosecutor’s Office but on the polluting activities that are carried out around the lagoon.

On the other hand, Herman Amaya, director of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Boyacá (Corpoboyacá), an institution that describes itself as “a leader in environmental planning, the safeguarding of ecosystems and the solution of socio-environmental conflicts”, said:

“As Corpoboyacá I must identify the vectors that the body of water has, but I have a huge institutional weakness, because that can cost the corporation 7,000 million pesos and my budget is 15,000.

Amaya convened a working table on November 18, to which the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, the Ministry of Health of Boyacá, the mayors of Sogamoso, Aquitania, Tota, Cuítiva, Firavitoba, Iza and Nobsa were invited, as well as the Departmental Public Services Company Coservicios SA, who will make new visits to the area.

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