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Factories killing Awash River

The discharge of chemical waste from factories along the outskirts of Addis, Modjo, and Adama are increasing the Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) amount of the Awash River which is killing aquatic animal life and harming irrigation systems along the river.
A recent study conducted by the Environment, Forest & Climate Change Commission, Ethiopia –(EFCCC) indicated that factories in Addis, Adama and Modjo are the major pollutants of the river by discharging untreated chemicals and sewerage.
TDS is a measure of the dissolved combined content of all inorganic and organic substances present in a liquid in molecular, ionized or micro-granular suspended form.
According to the study there is a high amount of TDS around Beseka Lake which is a source of water for the Awash River. The area around Awash Fountain, Modjo River and Adaitu are the places that are discharging a high amount of acid and salt into the river.
Because of the pollution, some farmers in Afar are shifting their irrigation lands to escape the high amount of salty water from the river and some fish in the river are in danger because of the high amount of solid pollution in the Awash River.
Hundaol Gemechu, water pollution expert at EFCCC told Capital that the factories have been warned to stop putting chemicals into the water but those warnings are often ignored.
“A constant level of minerals in the water is necessary for aquatic life. Changes in the amounts of dissolved solids can be harmful because the density of total dissolved solids determines the flow of water in and out of an organism’s cells. Many of these dissolved solids contain chemicals, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur, which are the building blocks of molecules for life.”
“Concentration of total dissolved solids that are too high or too low may limit the growth and may lead to the death of many aquatic organisms. High concentrations of total dissolved solids may reduce water clarity, which contributes to a decrease in photosynthesis and lead to an increase in water temperature. Many aquatic organisms cannot survive in high temperatures. Discharge of pollutants into rivers or any aquatic environment can change aquatic species diversity, abundance and ecosystems, due to their toxicity and accumulative behavior”.
He added that over the last decade huge scale usage of chemicals in various human activities has grown very rapidly. The industrial and domestic effluents are released directly or indirectly into the large water bodies.
Awash River in eastern Ethiopia, rises on a steep northern escarpment of the Eastern (Great) Rift Valley and is fed by Lakes Shala, Abiyata, Langano, and Ziway. Cotton is grown in the fertile Awash River valley, and dams (notably the Koka Dam, 1960) supply hydroelectric power. Herds of antelope and gazelle live in the Awash National Park. The river ends in a chain of salt lakes in the Denakil Plain, after a northeasterly course of about 750 miles (about 1,200 km).


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