The Dique canal, which connects the Caribbean port city of Cartagena to the center of Colombia, will be the topic of discussion on Thursday at an international environment conference.
The Second World Environment Conference will be held in Cartagena, and will focus on the environmental impact of the canal, which stretches for 73 miles from Cartagena Bay to the most important river in Colombia, the Magdalena, in the Bolivar department in the north of the country.
The canal was first built in 1582 by Spanish colonizers and for a long time connected formerly isolated Caribbean districts with the rest of Colombia. But recently the canal has become an economic, environmental, and life-threatening problem.
In 2010 heavy rains resulted in the Dique Canal breaking open an 800ft hole in its banks. The subsequent floods led to the damage of fields, houses, and the displacement of 150,000 people. In total, 18 municipalities in 3 different departments were affected.
In addition, it is estimated that of the 10 million tons of sediment that enter the canal from the Magadalena River, some 2 million make it to Cartagena Bay where they are destroying the habitat of the marine life, not just in the bay but also in island archipegalos nearby.
The Minister and the Viceminister for Environment and Sustainable Development will attend the conference, along with environmental experts from all over Colombia and commentators from newspaper El Espectador, Caracol TV and the Nature Conservancy.