The regional corporation in charge of water distribution in a central Colombian state restricted water use for a steel company, as the water level in Colombia’s largest lake approaches a record-low level, reports national media.
The Boyaca Autonomous Regional Corporation, in charge of water distribution in the central Colombian state of Boyaca, restricted the supply of water for steel manufacturer, Acerias Paz de Rio, by 80%, as the water level in Lake Tota is 15.7 inches from registering a record low.
The low level is being blamed on the El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as overuse of water from onion farming that surrounds the area around the lake.
Steel company responds
Acerias Paz de Rio is the second-largest steel manufacturer in Colombia, and is responsible for much of the steel production in the South American country, reported El Espectador.
While the steel company stated that the measure would result in the loss of millions of dollars, the Colombian Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) told local governments to obey recommendations, implement actions and contingency plans to avoid water shortages during the dry season, according to national radio station Caracol Radio.
A lake in danger
Lake Tota, in the central Colombian state of Boyaca, is Colombia’s largest natural lake, and is an important tourist attraction for the state of Boyaca. It has been identified as an ecosystem in danger, as a multitude of factors deprive the lake of its water and cleanliness.
Onion crops, trout-farming, and sewage from the four surrounding municipalities and steel-manufacturing have affected the level and quality of the water.
Boyaca’s tourist website describes the lake as, “undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural places in Boyaca.”
However, 95% of the cultivable land in the basin of this “beautiful environment” is carpeted with crops of onions which comprise 90% of all the onions consumed in Colombia. The pungent vegetables not only add a distinctive flavor to the air, they also have a more sinister effect on South America’s second highest lake.