Around 94% of Uruguay’s rivers suffer from contamination

Around 94% of Uruguay’s rivers suffer from contamination, according to a report conducted by local NGO Vida Silvestre. The paper analyzed and compiled the results from studies and monitoring reports of 49 rivers carried out by government organizations from 2009-11.

To determine contamination, the researchers looked at whether the rivers were classified as eutrophic, which occurs when excess nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen are found in the water leading to excessive plant growth.

In Uruguay the main cause of river eutrophication is from the disposal of untreated urban and industrial wastewater in addition to an increase in land use for agricultural and other purposes, the study found.

Santa Lucía River

The main example of the consequences of river eutrophication in Uruguay is the Santa Lucía river, which came into the spotlight in March when its contamination levels resulted in smelly tap water, raising concerns and forcing the government to take action.

Yet despite the national attention given to the Santa Lucía river, the report emphasized that “the existing pressure and the consequences on the country’s water resources are not concentrated on only one body of water, but rather extend throughout the country.”

According to the study, the country’s other bodies of water also suffer from contamination with 60% of dams, 54% of natural lakes and 53% of coastal lagoons also considered eutrophic. Of the 151 bodies of water analyzed, 70% are contaminated.

Source: Katherine Watkins | BN Americas