Polluted, but the birds love it

Embalse Cerron Grande is a lake created by a hydroelectric dam on the Lempa River. It's big, it's polluted, and birds love it according to this report in Reuters:
CERRON GRANDE RESERVOIR, El Salvador, May 17 (Reuters) - An artificial lake in El Salvador brimming with sewage and industrial waste is mystifying scientists by attracting thousands of migratory and sea birds.

Built in 1974 to drive El Salvador's biggest hydroelectric project, the 33,360-acre (13,500- hectare) Cerron Grande reservoir collects some 3,800 tonnes of excrement each year from the sewage pipes, as well as factory run-off and traces of heavy metals like chromium and lead, the government estimates.

So scientists are puzzling over the fact that some 150,000 seabirds from more than 130 species have chosen to make the reservoir their home. At least 90 of the species are migratory birds arriving from as far away as Alaska.

"It's one of the most contaminated lakes we have, which is why we should carry out a study on why the birds are here," said marine biologist Oscar Molina.

Waste from 54 industrial plants, 55 coffee processing plants, seven sugar mills and 29 sewerage systems flows into the reservoir, the environment ministry found in a 2004 study.

Yet the birds attracted to the lake even outnumber the roughly 100,000 people living in villages around it.(more)

You can view images of the lake in these photos: Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3.


El-Visitador said…
It is a measure of the unspeakable cultural poverty of El Salvador, that not a single town in a country of 6.5M can boast of fully treating its wastewater.

Raw sewage flows into all waterways and wetlands, and the subject is not even on the people's radar screen, much less the government.

The only fully functioning wastewater treatment plants I have ever seen in El Salvador were those operated, in newer plants, by the large and much maligned "oligarchic" corporate interests. Small and midsize businesses simply can't afford to build and operate their own plants.

- * -

Now if ANDA were adequatedly privatized, it would have a huge $$$ incentive to charge all polluters, which would then respond to a fees and levies by cleaning up their act.
Anonymous said…
can't help to agree with visitador this time. it makes me sick to just think about it, since well, i used to live right next to the lake and occassionally went fishing or swimming in those waters. did u know that besides all the crap, heavy metals and chemical pollutants that are damned in that water, there's also an erosion or rather eruption of sulfuric fluids from beneath the earth under the water? it looks pretty nasty, kinda like mercury and widespread in large amounts. how can we go about privatizing ANDA?
Anonymous said…

To privatize ANDA it would be best to do follow these 10 easy steps

1-Reduce funding as much as possible to ANDA so its infrastructure falls into decay.

2- Bombard the electronic and print media with a slick propaganda campaign that keeps emphasizing that privately owned services like water are better run than publicly owned ones. Use lots of government (public) funds to harp on how privately run services owned by corporations are much more efficient and less corrupt than publicly run ones. Make this your mantra. Say it 137 times per day. Then say "the free market actually exists and it is the best way of regulating and providing services." Say this 369 times per day. Take strong mind altering drugs, drink yourself into a stupor, or watch lots of TV if you ever start to doubt this

3-Do everything you can to harass, intimidate, repress, and break SETA, the public sector union that represents the ANDA workers. If all else fails call them terrorists and send in the army to crush'em. Repeating the experience of the airport workers union at Comalapa after Sept 11, 2001 and how they were demonized as some how hand a hand in breaches of airport security and (how I was never sure) linked to the Sept 11th terrorist attacks will do wonders in ridding yourself of those bothersome unions.

4-Repeat Step 2

5-Bombard the general population with slick propaganda that they'll get better service and lower water bills with ANDA privatized. It is advisable to not let on that the coffers of the state will have less money because of ANDA being privatized. Money will go to a corporation, probably a multinational one. Sure, there be various millions, maybe even billions from the sale, but it's a one off deal. This just in…ANDA would be sold as cheaply as possible. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE mention all the money that no longer goes into the Salvadoran budget for health care and education that came from ANTEL, the formerly publicly run telecommunications company.

6-Blame the FMLN, labor unions, and social movement organizations for trying to obstruct the privatization of ANDA. Smear them as out of touch Communist terrorists who get support from Hugo Chavez and Iran. If all else fails call them matavacas (cow killers). Raise specter of how if the FMLN wins the presidency in 2009 El Salvador will become a Cuban style Communist gulag. Note to whose ever in charge. Better to privatize ANDA before 2009 and possible FMLN election victory.

7- Repeat step 3. Up the ante. Maybe detain some SETA workers. Have PNC attack some of their mobilizations. Surround their union offices, say they're planning terrorist actions, or have already violated new anti terrorism law and lock'em up for 25 years. If all else fails have death squads kill a few SETA members.

8-UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES bring up Carlos Perla and his corruption and embezzlement and his links to Francisco Flores and ARENA.

9-Have World Bank and Interamerican Development Bank push billions of dollars in loans on El Salvador to privatize ANDA under the guise of modernization. Have El Salvador take on these loans and go even deeper into billions and billions of dollars in debt.

10- once privatization occurs get ready for massive resistance by FMLN, social movement, unions, marginal communities, and pretty much everyone who is not in the 4-5 family groups that control the Salvadoran economy. Keep justify privatization as panacea to all social, economic, and political problemsmlem
Anonymous said…
1b- Put Carlos Perla's brother in charge, have him steal all fundings that are meant for ARENA, and instead have him use the money and equipment to build ARENA's president a waterpark, this will surely make ANDA appear inefficient in order to make people believe that the only solution is privatization.

9b- Those 900 million dollars that the state loses every year due to tax evation... tell the peeps to go for the whole Billion! Make a billion dollars in tax evation, cut funding to healthcare just as well to privatize that as well, promise the army more funding and better equipment cause in a couple of years you'll need 'em to protect your freaking ass from what's coming! No funding to ANDA for mantainances and new projects will make people think that hey "maybe em Neoliberals are right!".
Hodad said…
this time I also wholeheartedly agree with el visitador
with water quality being a very important part of life, as we are 70% water as is this planet!

one of the initiatives of fairtradefish and earthpeoplefoundation [besides stopping the gold mines]
is to advocate appropriate technolgy such as composting toilets, in the third world
where for the approximate same price as a pile, the recipient device would be under the toilet, and then compost the waste then you would have bio-gas for cooking needs versus using gas in tanks[which are from the petrochemical industry] and cutting trees[which unfortunately is still practiced in ES] and then with a little maintainence [which needs to also be implemented in Latin countries, versus 'fix it when it breaks["common sense is NOT common", once again my rant] then you have malorganite, which is human composted waste and one of the best organic fertilizers there are[especially with subsistence diet like corn and beans]
so, also using a simple device like 55 gallons drum liners,which need to be recycled, you mix a combo of sand,increasing gradients of river rock, then layer of charcoal, and you have a simple water filter, even can use bamboo for your piping
common sense solutions for common problems ARE available with a little bit of elbow grease and COMMON SENSE
but we have to work together