Central America’s deepest lake is Lake Atitlán, located in the department of Sololá, just 50 miles from the famous old city of Antigua. Residents depend on the lake for daily life and commerce. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the region to experience the local Mayan culture, learn Spanish, and holiday amidst the picturesque surroundings. Unfortunately, in late 2009 a combination of factors including poor waste treatment, climate change, and inorganic fertilizers caused the lake to be contaminated with mysterious algae that left the local tourism industry devastated and residents scrambling for answers. Localized efforts to cleanup the lake by straining the bacteria out of the water were thwarted by continuous regrowth of the bloom. While the threat of climate change and its heightened impact on impoverished communities increases, government plans to deal with the major contamination issues in the region remain stalled, leading tourists, residents, and businesspeople left to wonder about the murky future of one of Central America’s most beautiful natural wonders.
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