Senegal’s pink lake threatened by flood after heavy rains | Water News

Senegal, like other countries in West and Central Africa, has recorded above-normal rainfall in recent weeks causing destructive flooding.

After days of torrential rain, salt miner Moussa Diare could only watch in despair as floodwaters pierced a meter-wide gap on the shores of Senegal’s Pink Lake and washed away thousands of dollars worth of salt mounds he had owned. we can collect.

“This is my first time seeing this. I lost a lot of money with my salt being washed out and dissolved in water,” Diare said Tuesday.

Senegal, like other countries in West and Central Africa, has recorded above-normal rainfall in recent weeks, causing destructive flooding after poor drainage systems failed.

The lake, separated by a stretch of sand dunes from the Atlantic Ocean, is located about 35 kilometers (20 mi) from the Senegalese capital Dakar. It is one of the country’s most visited sites and is being considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Officially known as Lake Retba, it gets its pinkish color from an algae that produces color pigments and, like the Dead Sea, is also known for its high salt content.

Diare is one of more than 3,000 people who make a living from the lake, including hundreds of divers who manually scrape salt from the lake bed, producing about 38,000 tons a year. Salt is used for cooking and exported in the region.

As persistent rains hit Senegal, about 126 millimeters (five inches) were recorded in one wave over the weekend, according to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, drainage and lakes, according to the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. The reservoir was quickly flooded and led the flood water towards the lake.

According to Senegal’s meteorological and civil aviation agency, rainfall above 50mm (1.9 inches) in the country is considered “extreme”.

When the flow reached the lake, the water level rose, washing away dozens of mounds of salt, said Babacar Ba, another miner trying to save his remaining mounds.

Abdoulaye Faty, a hydrologist and lecturer at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, told Reuters news agency that rising water levels in the surrounding plateaus naturally accumulate into the low-lying lake.

Because the lake has received a lot of floodwater, it could affect its salt content and color, he added.

With a month to go before the end of Senegal’s June-October rainy season, other businesses around the lake, including restaurants and flat-bottom boat operators who take guests on tours of the lake, are counting losses. and worry about the future.

“What attracts tourists is the feeling of floating on the lake because it contains a lot of salt. Right now, nobody can float here,” said Abdou Seye Dieng, who runs a campsite on the beach.

The government has activated a national plan to help communities affected by perennial flooding, and a mission from the Ministry of Water and Sanitation is expected to visit the lake soon.

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