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Lake Titicaca, Once Considered Andean Deity, Faces Pollution Threat

World | Reuters | September 15, 2019, 9:08 am
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 Oscar Limachi, a member of the local Qewaya community who works as a tour guide on Lake Titicaca, poses for a photograph in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Limachi says that waste from El Alto and a lack of understanding about pollution risk changing the habitat forever.

Oscar Limachi, a member of the local Qewaya community who works as a tour guide on Lake Titicaca, poses for a photograph in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Limachi says that waste from El Alto and a lack of understanding about pollution risk changing the habitat forever. "It is also our fault, people throw garbage and plastic everywhere, they don't understand this is polluting," he says, adding that many plant varieties in the lake had already vanished. "Fish used to live, eat and lay their eggs amongst these plants. Now there are no plants, so no fish," he says. "We are afraid that someday the fish will disappear or migrate forever." (Image: Reuters)

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 Rubbish is dumped on the outskirts of Desaguadero village, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Rubbish is dumped on the outskirts of Desaguadero village, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Algae float in shallow water in Cohana bay, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Algae float in shallow water in Cohana bay, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Oscar Limachi and his son-in-law ride their boat to Pariti island where they often make money as tour guides, in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Oscar Limachi and his son-in-law ride their boat to Pariti island where they often make money as tour guides, in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Rubbish floats on the shore where Lake Titicaca and Desaguadero river meet in Desaguadero village, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Rubbish floats on the shore where Lake Titicaca and Desaguadero river meet in Desaguadero village, Lago Menor, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Oscar Limachi gathers totora plant to use in art and crafts project to be sold at Pariti island museum, at Pariti island museum, in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Oscar Limachi gathers totora plant to use in art and crafts project to be sold at Pariti island museum, at Pariti island museum, in Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Oscar Limachi and his son-in-law walk on Pariti Island, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Since fish in the lake have become scarce, the population of the island has diminished to just a few families. (Image: Reuters)

Oscar Limachi and his son-in-law walk on Pariti Island, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Since fish in the lake have become scarce, the population of the island has diminished to just a few families. (Image: Reuters)

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 Professor Xavier Lazzaro, an aquatic systems specialist with French research institute IRD, shows a team member on a map where samples will be taken as they head to a polluted site in Cohana bay, Lago Menor, Bolivia. Lazzaro said a shortage of water treatment plants, local industry, tourism and global warming are all affecting the lake, especially the smaller and shallower

Professor Xavier Lazzaro, an aquatic systems specialist with French research institute IRD, shows a team member on a map where samples will be taken as they head to a polluted site in Cohana bay, Lago Menor, Bolivia. Lazzaro said a shortage of water treatment plants, local industry, tourism and global warming are all affecting the lake, especially the smaller and shallower "Lago Menor." Lazzaro, who has been closely following pollutants in the lake for many years, is using a solar-powered buoy to do real-time measurements of water quality. He said there is not yet enough data to reliably illustrate the size of the problem. Over time, a build-up of sediments, toxic blooms and climate change could cause the Lago Menor to become more shallow and eventually dry up, he said. "This catastrophic scenario is not science fiction. Of course, it will take decades, centuries to happen," he said. "It will be faster if no action is taken." (Image: Reuters)

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 Oscar Limachi's son-in-law checks fish caught in his net near Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Oscar Limachi's son-in-law checks fish caught in his net near Qewaya village, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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 Roberto Mamani, a resident of Koati Island, rides his boat towards the island, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

Roberto Mamani, a resident of Koati Island, rides his boat towards the island, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. (Image: Reuters)

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