Ethiopia: Chemical pollutants, water hyacinth threatens country’s largest lake

ESAT News (July 13, 2017)

Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest lake which is also registered as UNESCO’s world heritage for its centuries old churches and monasteries is threatened by chemical and waste pollutants entering the water from surrounding hotels businesses and even government institutions. This, on top of the water hyacinth covering a large area of the lake, has become a menace to its aquatic life.  

ESAT’s sources say the pollutants entering the lake are equally a threat to the ecosystem of the lake. Resident of Bahir Dar say the production of fish from the lake has already dwindled and they rely on farm fish from Tekeze river.

The ecosystem of Lake Tana has also been threatened by the spread of water hyacinth, which experts warn could create significant damages to the fish and other aquatic life.

Besides its negative effect in hampering transportation, irrigation and hydroelectric power, the weed also creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Experts say the country’s environment protection agencies, both at the local and federal level have not given serious attention to mitigate the problem .

The water hyacinth first appeared five years ago and believe to have been brought by expat engineers working on nearby dams, according to Wase Anteneh, a researcher with the University of Bahir Dar. He said the weed has so far covered 50,000 hectares of the lake.

Lake Tana has surface area of about 3,500 square kilometers, and is the source of the Blue Nile. It is also home to a number of centuries old churches and monasteries.