Tons of garbage found in Yucatán ‘cenotes’

At least 80% of all 3,000 or more cenotes that exist in the region are highly polluted

Tons of garbage found in Yucatán ‘cenotes’
The cleaning of the underwater caves was conducted by a team of around 80 volunteers and members of the Bepensa and Activner foundations - Photo: Cuauhtémoc Moreno Cabrera
English 22/12/2018 17:05 Yazmín Rodríguez / Corresponsal Mexico City Actualizada 17:08
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According to a team of volunteers who offered to clean up underwater caves or cenotes in Yucatán, all kinds of garbage and even witchcraft items are being thrown into these pits.

Sergio Grosjean, who coordinates the team of specialized divers, said he was in shock at the broad variety and huge amount of garbage that is thrown into the caves: “We found old stoves, truck wheels, and even items used for witchcraft.”

The cenotes of Yucatán are one of the most important natural resources in the peninsula, though they are now in danger due to high levels of pollution, which directly affects fish, mammals, and many other life forms. At least 80% of all 3,000 or more cenotes that exist in the region are highly polluted, according to speleologists.

Locals have pointed out that most of the trash is dumped by outsiders and tourists who are unaware of the amount of garbage they generate, though recent studies show that the region inhabitants also contribute to pollution, according to environmentalist Sergio Grosjean.

The cleaning of the underwater caves was conducted by a team of around 80 volunteers and members of the Bepensa and Activner foundations.

The Yax Ek cenote, located at the center of the Kaua population in eastern Yucatán, has benefited from this program, which has grown gradually thanks to more and more volunteers who have decided to join and expeditions from specialized divers led by Grosjean.

According to the expert, volunteers have found between half and one ton of garbage in each cenote.

Grosjean regretted that most municipalities in Yucatán don’t have a biodigestors program to treat garbage accumulated in small communities, which is why pollution goes directly into the groundwater layer, damaging the ecosystem.

The environmentalist added that the team had also cleaned cenotes in Sanhacat, Homún, Abalá, and Caucel. Though they have been able to clean around 15 cenotes this year, the hardest part of the job is to convince locals to stop throwing their garbage into the water caves, adding that in many cases, after cleaning up one site with his team of divers, volunteers returned a few months later only to find more garbage within the caves.

“Authorities need to work on promoting education and environmental awareness in local communities so that people may take care of cenotes and stop using them as waste disposals,” stated the cave diving group coordinator.

According to the cenotes Atlas in Yucatán, it is estimated that there are around 2,000 underwater caves in the state.
 

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