EFE: Concessionaire Says Protection of Lake Nicaragua is One of Its Objectives
Managua, March 25 (ACAN-EFE).- The Chinese firm HKND Group, concessionaire of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal Project, said on Saturday that the protection of Lake Cocibolca (or Lake Nicaragua) is one of its objectives during the construction of the Canal.
“The protection of this lake is one of the key objectives of the environmental and water management plans that HKND Group would implement during the construction and operation of the Nicaragua Canal," said the Chinese firm in a statement.
Lake Cocibolca, which covers an area of more than 8,200 square kilometers, is the largest lake in Central America and the second largest in Latin America. It is also a fundamental element of the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal, whose planning and execution are developed by HKND Group.
The firm said that it has conducted a series of studies demonstrating that this water body has faced decades of deterioration, due to soil erosion, increasing levels of sedimentation, and the use of its water for human consumption and economic activities.
“All these factors have caused the continuous decline in water availability and the detriment of its quality, and have destroyed the animal life, vegetation and the ecosystem of the lake,” added the concessionaire.
According to the firm, the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal can contribute to the sustainable development of Lake Cocibolca because the Project “represents an opportunity to minimize and help reverse its deterioration”.
"One of the most important aspects is that the Canal will not affect the water levels of Lake Nicaragua, since the design of the Canal and its locks will ensure that there will be no net use of the lake water for the operation of the Canal," HKND Group stated.
The Canal will also provide water supply to compensate for the loss of water caused by climate change, by diverting surplus water from the Punta Gorda basin, which would otherwise flow into the Caribbean, westward to Lake Cocibolca, added HKND Group.
In addition, a reservoir will be built in the east to ensure a stable water supply during extreme weather conditions.
Likewise, according to the information, a massive reforestation program will also be carried out along the Canal route to avoid the continuous soil erosion and to significantly reduce the sediment flowing into Lake Nicaragua.
“HKND Group is committed to guaranteeing water quality throughout the construction and operation of the Canal. Only a small portion of the lake bed will be directly affected by Canal construction,” said the company.
Nevertheless, mitigation measures, including a comprehensive management plan, will be implemented to address the impacts on the water quality of the lake, added the statement.
The concessionaire has promised not to use explosives during the construction and the excavation operations will be carried out with suction dredgers to avoid any large-scale turbidity.
Salinity control measures are incorporated in the design of the locks to maintain the salt levels within international standards.
Nicaragua has granted to the Chinese firm HKND Group the concession for the Canal Project for a period of 50 years and renewable for another 50 years.
According to the latest design, the Project consists of a waterway of 276 kilometers long, 230 to 280 meters wide, and includes two ports, an airport, two artificial lakes, two locks, a free trade zone and tourist resorts, among others.
The Project cost is estimated at about US$ 50,000 million, according to HKND Group.