Bogota Basin’s Pollution Reaches Historic Levels
21 May 2012 - 18:19 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
Colombia, BOGOTA — Pollution in the Bogota River has reached peak historic levels over the past three years, according to Carlos Acero, manager of the Bogota Water and Sewage Company (EEAB).
He warned earlier this month that the deterioration of water quality in the river poses a serious risk to the water supply in the Colombian capital. The cause of the pollution is massive, uncontrolled discharge of wastewater from industrial areas along the river. In some stretches, the river is so badly polluted it is considered a dead zone.
Acero said Bogota needs a system to connect the affected parts of the river with a treatment plant. Officials are debating how the system will be funded.
Magistrate Nelly Villamizar said the Superior Court of Bogota is considering issuing a decree that would require studies to be carried out to determine the focal points of pollution in the river. The decree would also determine whether the Water Company of Bogota should assume responsibility for treatment and prevention of pollution from these sources.
Finally, Villamizar said the progress of the country’s Sanitation Master Plan will be monitored, as will the Agriculture Ministry’s herbicide use and the Ministry of Housing’s management of basin settlements.
On May 12, residents of 45 municipalities in Cundinamarca Department, through which the Bogota flows, participated in the “My River Bogota” campaign, which aimed to raise awareness about the effort to decontaminate the water body.
The Bogota Basin is home to over 9 million people, 8 million of whom live in the capital city.
The Cundinamarca Autonomous Regional Corporation, which is in charge of the environmental aspects of the river clean up, said on May 7 that there had been two bids in the international tender for the $47.3 million USD World Bank-funded project.
The clean-up is part of the Bogota River Environmental Recovery and Flood Control program.
The main goal of the project is to transform the Bogota River into an urban environmental asset by improving water quality and reducing risks due to rising water levels. It is being carried out by the Cundinamarca Autonomous Regional Corporation and EEAB, and should be completed in 2016.
It has four components: upgrading and expanding the Salitre Wastewater Treatment Plant; implementing flood control and environmental restoration works; carrying out environmental and water studies; and strengthening institutional capacity.