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By Dr. Edgar Jaimes
President Chávez, in his address on 09/25/2007, referred to the serious environmental problem of the Lake Valencia basin, the most significant social cost of which has been the eviction of numerous families that lived, for more than twenty years, homes built on land unsuitable for urban uses.
President Chávez, in his speech on Tuesday 09/25/2007, made from Maracay, made reference to the serious environmental problem of the Lake of Valencia basin, whose most significant social cost has been the eviction of numerous families who lived, for more than twenty years, houses built on land not suitable for urban uses. Economically, it has meant a high outlay of money by the National Executive to compensate for this social expense. Ecologically, it is a tangible example of the growing environmental deterioration of the only lake ecosystem of the endoreic type existing in Venezuela. In that same address, the Prime Magistrate mentioned one of the causes that is associated with said problem, such as the deviation of the Cabriales riverbed towards Lake Valencia. The construction of a transfer tunnel to the Taiguaiguay river basin also appeared as a possible “Structural Solution”. By the way, a similar measure was proposed by the Ministry of the Environment in 1985 but transferring the surpluses to Ocumare de la Costa. On that occasion I developed a campaign against such a measure since it did not solve the underlying problem, but rather attacked the effects of the problem more instead of coordinating technical and scientific actions aimed at a more effective and efficient control of the causes that originate the problem in question. I also denounced that the promoters of the pharaonic project were the powerful "Steel and Cement" mafias, which still predominate in the states of Aragua and Carabobo. I would not be surprised if they try to impose a similar project again.
To paraphrase Cervantes: “… .today I feel Rocinante's ribs under my feet, today I am back with my shield under my arm.”, I have the duty to issue, once again, my voice of alert to the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Commander Hugo Chávez Frías, in order to draw your attention in relation to the actions that are most convenient to solve the serious environmental problem of the Lake Valencia basin. To do this, I rely on the document entitled: "ACTIONS FOR A COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS OF THE VALENCIA LAKE BASIN", which received one of the National Conservation Awards granted by the "Enrique Tejera" contest evaluation jury, appointed by the Organizing Committee of the V Venezuelan Conservation Congress and held in San Cristóbal, Táchira state, between December 10 and 15, 1989. This work was published in the Venezuelan Geographical Magazine, volume XXX, year 1989, edited by the Institute of Geography and Conservation of Natural Resources, of the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, of the University of Los Andes. As authors of the same are the Agronomist Pedro González Heredia and the undersigned.
Based on this document, the main actions that would be necessary to define an agroecological and environmental management plan aimed at mitigating, controlling or eliminating the causes that originate the environmental problems of this hydrographic basin are reconsidered, that is:
A. Increasing contamination of water, soil and air;
B. Increase in urban-industrial use of land
C. Ascent of the level of the Lake of Valencia.
In accordance with the sequence of causes indicated above, the set of actions that prefigures a comprehensive solution to the environmental problem raised are the following:
1. Purify all the industrial effluents through treatment plants, observing that the discharges to the lake maintain a very low content of pollutants and high biological toxicity. In the same way, it is necessary to manage urban waste through the techniques of fractionation or physical-mechanical separation, using organic solid materials as a source of fertilizer amendments, and allocating liquid effluents, after treatment, to be applied as irrigation sheets. or for the refeeding of the aquifers of the basin. It is pertinent to include within this purification action the techniques of filtering and retention of ions, typical of lacustrine sediments, in order to contribute to the decontamination of these effluents. Additionally, it is imperative to build oxidation ponds near urban-industrial centers, in areas with marginal lands or with low capacity for agricultural use, with the purpose of helping with the filtering and retention of pollutants in the soils and to increase evaporation of sewage.
2. Control the urban-industrial growth of the basin, stimulating the development of areas for these purposes that are located in peripheral areas of the basin, located towards the south of Aragua or in the Guárico and Cojedes states. Included within this action, it is important to consider the relocation of a part of the industrial and agro-industrial complex installed in the basin, towards these peripheral areas because they are areas with less conflicts of use in terms of space and other natural resources.
3. Declare the entire area of lacustrine soils as NOT SUITABLE for urban-industrial development, reserving the levels of terraces closest to the Lake of Valencia as a vegetal cord, which would be used for reforestation with tree, native and exotic species, which They are efficient for draining large swampy areas or with a high frequency of surface flooding due to the increase in the water level of the lake.
Based on the aforementioned actions, a comprehensive solution that guarantees a good quality of life in the surroundings of the Lake Valencia basin is very feasible. For this, the definition of a Hydraulic, Hydrological, Industrial, Urban, Agricultural, Forestry and Agro-Ecological Master Plan is urgently required with a horizon of 50 years that includes, among other investment projects, the following:
I. Sanitation of industrial effluents and sewage from all urban and rural populated centers.
II. Supply and consumption of drinking water, considering the interannual rate of population growth of the entire basin. According to statistics from the O.C.E.I. For the year 2000 a total of 3,500,000 inhabitants was estimated and if the trend of increase observed in the decade 1991-2000 continues, which was 95,000 inhabitants per year, it is expected that by 2010 the basin will host around the 4,500,000 people. Consequently, it is imperative to carry out a detailed study to determine the Human Carrying Capacity (CCH), in order to know how compromised the environmental sustainability of the basin would be.
III. Canalization of natural channels and other drainage works.
IV. Intensification of the sustainable agricultural use of flat lands, based on irrigated agriculture, fed by a network of "Gray Aqueducts", designed from previously treated sewage.
V. Design of a massive reforestation project for the lacustrine terraces near the lake, using forest species with a high capacity to extract water from the soil. Eucalyptus is known to have an extraction capacity of around 220 liters, per plant, per day, and VI. Updating of urban and rural land management plans.
President Chávez: heed this warning voice, because it carries an encouraging message that will contribute to improving the quality of life of more than 3.5 million people who inhabit or will inhabit these beautiful valleys in the coming decades. With systemic thinking, shared vision and teamwork is how the Socialism of the XXI Century is built.www.ecoportal.net
* Dr. Edgar Jaimes - Professor ULA-NURR, Trujillo