As part of World Water Day, Colombia’s National Health Institute revealed that half of the country’s departments register contaminated drinking water, Caracol Radio reported Tuesday.
The report shows that only 12.5% of the departments in Colombia offer water safe for human consumption, with the Surveillance System for Potable Water Quality warning that 15% of departments have “high risk” water.
On average, nationwide samples of water reveal contamination of residual chlorine, microorganisms, E. coli, and coliform bacteria.
In addition to poor water quality, Colombia faces a shortage of potable water due to deforestation and the expansion of agricultural land, newspaper El Espectador reported.
The main water sources for Colombians originate in the Colombian Andes, an area which is suffering contamination and at risk of drying up.
The socio-economic coordinator of Conservation International Cesar Ruiz explained the factors contributing to the potable water shortage in Colombia to the newspaper.
“There is a historical precedent: the deforestation of the Andean forests found 6,500 feet above sea level. The transformation of grasslands, which have to cede large portions of land to expand the agricultural frontier of cultivation of different products, especially potatoes, and the displacement of communities in the highlands of the mountains,” he said.
The problem is exacerbated by a lack of a land management plan and an institutional weakness against the control of water resources, according to Ruiz.