Industrial waste endangers Lake Hawassa

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A study from Hawassa University argues that Lake Hawassa may lose its rich diversity of animal, marine and bird life if the lake is not better maintained. This largely because companies managing beer, textile, plastic, food soap, wood, and ceramic factories are dumping their waste into the lake, threatening the ecosystem.

“In recent years, the water volume has continuously declined and sediments have increased,” Mulugeta Daddi, Technology Transfer and University and Industry Linkage, Director at Hawassa University told Capital.

“We have observed that the industries are trying their best to preserve the water but toxic waste still gets into the lake and a better solution is needed to handle the problem,’’ he said.

Mulugeta added that the university is working with the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity to alleviate the problem by distilling waste water from the factories and applying principals of eco-hydrology. He is advocating for all stakeholders to work together to better protect the water.

Lake Hawassa is often described as the beating heart of Hawassa, supporting the livelihoods of over a thousand people and attracting visitors from across Ethiopia and abroad. The lake is rich in different kinds of fish species like Barbus, Telapia and Cart Fish. This attracts tourists who come for leisure fishing, they also arrive to watch many species of birds that are not found other places and to relax around the lake. Many residents fish commercially and the lake’s beauty serves as a social center attracting weekend visitors from Addis Ababa which has led to an increase in the number of hotels and restaurants. Now climate change and industrial waste are affecting the lake resulting in drastic reduction of its fish stocks and low water levels that are a matter of concern.

Because it is accessible to scientists, the lake is one of the most studied in the Rift Valley. According to William Taylor, a member of the African Lakes and Rivers Research Group at the University of Waterloo, Lake Hawasa is, despite its lack of an outflow, “essentially a freshwater lake indicating that it must have a subterranean outlet” g