Lake Abiyata drying up
We might say goodbye to one of the most famous Ethiopian rift valley lakes soon. Lake Abiyata, which lies 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and often glimmered pink with flamingos, is declining rapidly due the damming of rivers and soda ash production. “The lake is among the most endangered of the lakes. Its gradual demise is recorded in a concentric series of old shorelines, obvious on the ground,” say environmental experts.
Lake Abiyata (locally known as Hora Kunni) is the shallowest of the rift valley lakes. It occupies a very flat depression, bounded to the west and east by small fault scarps. Its waters are more are appreciably more soda-rich than those of Langano. This expresses the fact that Lake Abiyata has no outlet, and evaporation continues to concentrate the soda. At present the lake’s maximum depth is about 7 meters, but this is decreasing as the lake shrinks.
“The shrinking is partly the result of climate, but is exacerbated by soda extraction,” said Frances Williams and Paul Mohr who worked in the department of Geology of Addis Ababa University.A soda-ash plant operating at the northern end of the lake is also harming the delicate water body. It evaporates lake water in isolated pools to precipitate out dissolved sodium carbonate, it was said.
The experts warn that the lake could be dried out in the next two to four years if no action is taking. The government has yet to take a position on the future of the lake.