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Environmental Issues Affecting Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua

March 6th, 2013 Category: Lakes

Nicaragua – March 6th, 2013

Nicaragua’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua, has a surface of 8,264 km². Located in the central southern part of the country (and visible here near the image center), the oval-shaped lake is relatively uncontaminated, although some serious environmental issues pose a real threat for its future, particularly if preventative steps are not taken.

There are three principal contamination threats. The main problems and source of contamination for Lake Nicaragua are related to the discharge of wastewater that comes from the urban zones at the shores of the lake. In spite of the clear contamination that results from this practice, large cities as Granada, Rivas and Juigalpa and many small towns still lead their sewage from residential areas but even from industrial zones to the lake (either directly or through a river that terminates in the lake). Consequently, coastal areas close to these urban centers have to deal with the waste that is not biodegradable which surfaces in front of the settlements.

The second largest problem comes from the agricultural industry in the coastal areas. The fertile soil next to the lake provides a great site for cattle farming and plantations. In the departments of Chontales, Boaco and Rivas there are many places where people farm without protecting the lake whatsoever, leading to contamination with enormous quantities of fertilizers ending up in the water. Another even more important impact is caused by the nearby agricultural haciendas that contaminate the rivers flowing into the lake by the unprotected usage of chemicals at their plantations. This problem is mostly visible at the southern side of the lake on Nicaraguan territory but also on Costa Rican soil (as these rivers also terminate in Lake Nicaragua).

The third problem is a controversial issue related to the recent introduction of new fish species inside floating cages in the lake. Although the foreign firm that develops this project obtained the governmental permits and even though the fish breeding has already started, there has been strong disapproval by ecologists, social organizations and communities ever since the beginning. The problem, the critics point out, is that the huge quantity of Tilapia fish generates large waste quantities that the lake has to adsorb. The biologists also warn that the Tilapia might bring diseases that the endemic fish are not prepared for (click here for more information).


Green Waters of Lake Managua, Nicaragua

12.3N 86.3W

March 4th, 2013 Category: Lakes

Nicaragua – March 3rd, 2013

The green lake visible southeast of the Gulf of Fonseca is Lake Managua, in Nicaragua, one of Central America’s largest fresh water reservoirs. A new water treatment plant is purifying the polluted lake, helping residents.

For decades, household sewage and industrial effluents generated by residents and farmers in northern Nicaragua ended up unfiltered in Lake Managua. The result was an epidemic of water-transmitted infections and toxins in the lake’s fish. The contaminated lake posed a health hazard to people living along its shores, who depend on its water to cook, drink and wash.

Now, a water treatment plant installed on the shores of the lake has begun cleaning up the waste water and supplying fresh, drinking water. Experts are also working on using the abundant dried sewage sludge as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers. The aim is to save money, slash carbon emissions and help restore the lake’s strained ecosystem (click here for more information).

Fire Near Gulf of Fonseca, Nicaragua

13.1N 87.6W

February 5th, 2013 Category: Fires

Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador – January 23rd, 2013

The Gulf of Fonseca, part of the Pacific Ocean, is a gulf in Central America, bordering El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The gulf region forms part of the eastern border of El Salvador and is composed of a wide variety of coastal environments, including islands, mangrove forests, sand beaches, and rock cliffs. This environment has been subject to relatively little modification and preserves a rich flora and fauna. The Gulf of Fonseca’s natural resources still support traditional fishing and gathering of molluscs and crustaceans. Here, what appears to be a plume of smoke from a fire can also be seen blowing southwestward off the coast of Nicaragua, southeast of the gulf.

Gulf of Fonseca and Lakes Managua and Nicaragua, Central America

13.2N 87.7W

December 18th, 2012 Category: Lakes

El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – December 16th, 2012

The irregularly shaped bay on the Pacific Coast of Central America is the Gulf of Fonseca, bordering El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Visible to the southeast is Lake Managua (light green) and Lake Nicaragua (dark green, bottom right corner), both in Nicaragua. West of the gulf, numerous volcanic peaks can be seen, parallel to the coast.

Sediments in Gulf of Fonseca, Central America

13.2N 87.7W

March 25th, 2012 Category: Clouds, Lakes, Sediments

Central America - March 11th, 2012

Sediments drain out of the Gulf of Fonseca (center) and into the Pacific Ocean in this image of Central America. The Gulf of Fonseca borders El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua and covers an area of approximately 3,200 square kilometres (1,200 sq mi), with a coastline that extends for 261 kilometres (162 mi), of which 185 kilometres (115 mi) are in Honduras, 40 kilometres (25 mi) in Nicaragua, and 29 kilometres (18 mi) in El Salvador.

Visible to the southeast of the gulf is Lake Managua, in Nicaragua. At 1,042 km², it is approximately 65 km long and 25 km wide. The city of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, lies on its southwestern shore. The lake has been severely polluted, mostly by decades of sewage being dumped into the lake.

In the upper part of the image, popcorn clouds hang over heavily forested areas – a common phenomenon due to clouds forming around the water vapor released from photosynthesizing plants.