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The troubling impact of algae blooms in Lake Chapala

While Lake Chapala’s shrinking level is a matter of increased public concern as the dry season progresses, the excessive presence of microalgae that alter the water’s composition is another current problem that should be closely monitored, warns Alejandro Juárez Aguilar, director of the Instituto Corazòn de la Tierra (ITC), a local environmental NGO.

pg13Proliferation of algal blooms, their causes and their impact on the lake’s well-being were key topics addressed in the educational and public awareness activities ITC scheduled in the framework of its February-Month of Chapala Wetlands program.

As explained by ITC, the combination of low water volume, high temperatures, invasion of beaches and the accumulation of excess nutrients have provoked the spread of microscopic algae along the entire north shore, not only tinting the water green and emanating foul odors, but also endangering the lake’s rich biodiversity, human health and the region’s fishing and tourist industries.

Lake Chapala’s ecosystem maintains complex interactions between animals, plants, humans and abiotic elements such as the sun and the liquid itself. All elements are interrelated.

The main sources of excess nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen are chemical fertilizers washed in from adjacent farmlands, and discharges of raw domestic and livestock sewage.

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