A recent study by scientists in Peru has found that the waters of the Chillon River, on the outskirts of Lima, are laden with pollutants.
After performing an analysis that spanned several weeks last November, biologists from Lima's Cayetano Heredia University found that the river had 12 times the maximum permissible levels of pollutants for drinking water.
Environmental microbiologist Oscar Aguinaga said the most concerning pollutant in the river was E. coli, a type of bacteria common in the gut and in the faeces of many animals.
Aguinaga said one source of pollution was a sewage treatment plant that no longer has the capacity to treat the increasing volume of waste coming from the city.
One local resident said she often sees dead animals and debris floating in the river where she and her neighbours used to swim when they were children.
The high levels of contamination, according to Aguinaga, do not allow the use of river water to irrigate farm fields and birds looking for drinking water no longer seek refuge there.
Lima has multiple water sources, including lagoons, wells, springs, and the rivers Rimac, Lurin and Chillon.
The Chillon accounts for at least 10 percent of the water used in the city.
The river rises in the Peruvian Andes and flows for more than a hundred kilometers (60 miles) through Lima and into the Pacific Ocean.
Chaotic urban growth that can be traced back to the 1980s has now turned the last few kilometers of the Chillon river into a virtual garbage dump.
(Pic Credit: Representative Image/ Pixabay)