JICA: Pollution rising in Ypacaraí lake, rivers

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pollution levels of the Ypacaraí lake, the Paraguay river and its tributaries in Paraguay are increasing and pose a threat to public health, according to a report presented by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) officials, local press reported.

Water in the Paraguay river contains high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, especially in the area between Mariano Roque Alonso and Villeta to the north and south of capital Asunción, according to the study.

The river also shows pollution with a variety of agrochemicals in the Alto Paraguay area in the north of the country. These include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, defoliants and organophosphates.

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Although coliform bacteria are not pathogenic, they do indicate contamination with fecal matter and likely presence of other pathogens. The presence of agricultural chemicals shows the uncontrolled use of such substances in cultivated areas.

As these chemicals are washed by irrigation or rainwater into watercourses, they can "become serious sources of water pollution," JICA technician responsible for the study, Hideo Kawai, was quoted as saying by newspaper ABC during the presentation of the three-year study in Asunción.

"One of the problems is the deterioration of surface and underground waters due to the inappropriate use of the soil, contamination of areas that recharge aquifers, single-crop farming [and] the poor use of toxic and hazardous agrochemicals," environment minister Alfredo Molinos said.

"We must manage to eradicate these problems to guarantee safe water for future generations," he said, adding that the findings would help to promote the consolidation of a national policy to manage and ensure sustainable use of water resources.