Lake Uru-Uru in Bolivia covered in plastic waste

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 9:50 PM MST
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Oruro, Bolivia (KOLD News 13) - A large part of Lake Uru-Uru in Bolivia is now covered by trash. Much of it is plastic and run-off from nearby mines.

On Thursday, March 25, Limber Sanchez, an ecologist with the regional Ecological Centre and Andean People (CEPA) met with the Associated Press at the lake site to give an overview of what are the main pollutants.

“We are practically inundated with plastics,” he explained standing on a dry lake bed covered in plastic and other garbage. “Alongside the plastic is also the impact the acidic water from mining that has come from the San Jose Mine.”

The plastics are brought to the lake via the Tagarate Canal which starts in Oruro where residents dump their refuse.

In addition, the lake is polluted by heavy metals such as cadmium, zinc, and arsenic. The brown water tinged with rivulets of black accompanies the virtual sea of plastic in a polluted landscape that extends as far as the eye can see.

Now, only a small portion of the lake is able to maintain the wildlife that was once abundant.

“You could fish, you could do anything,” said Vicente Ramos a resident who grew up here. “There were birds here and now the birds are dying because of the pollution and all the things that are happening.”

Fed by tributaries from Lake Titicaca, Lake Uru-Uru is located next to the Bolivian city of Oruro of carnival fame, some 12,000 ft. above sea level and almost 124 miles southeast of La Paz .

National and local authorities have taken up the issue pledging to clean up the lake, “so that we may show a different image,” said Oruro Mayor David Choque.

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