Lake Managua; from tragedy to slow recovery

Lake Managua by Ryan Ballantyne

Lake Managua is the second largest lake in Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, sits on the lake’s southern shore. Many species of cichlids are native to Lake Managua’s waters. They include Amphilophus citrinellum (Midas Cichlid), Parachromis managuensis (Jaguar Cichlid) and Neetroplus nematopus. For most of the 20th century, raw sewage and industrial waste (including mercury) flowed from the capital into the lake making it one of the most polluted waters in world. Not only were the native species devastated, but food resources from the lake were considered to dangerous for human consumption. Over the last decade, a concerted effort from the government of Nicaragua to stop industrial pollution and tens of millions of dollars in foreign investment for a sewage treatment plant have started to make a difference. It is expected that it will take the lake at least 50 years to make a significant recovery.

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