Wealth is measured in water
Right in the middle of the Andes, especially in the Colombian massif, a treasure is hidden. Although it does not sparkle and it does not add to the jewels that adorn women all over the world, its value exceeds that of all the gold on the planet, because it does not depend on market demand, nor on consumer requests, but on the needs of humankind for survival.
This treasure, buried in the Andes, is a large natural water factory, so important that it is recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO: it supplies the five main waterways of the country – the Cauca, Magdalena, Patia, Putumayo and Caqueta Rivers – and 65 lagoons and 15 paramos, ecosystems that receive the natural waters. About 70% of the country’s population depends on the water resources that flow from the Colombian Massif.
Colombia is one of the countries with the most hydrological resources on the planet; here the yield is equal to six times the world average and three times that of the rest of Latin America. And this is without counting the natural underground water deposits, which triple its offerings. Because of this, the country is part of the group of eight countries with 60% of the world’s fresh water reserves, along with Canada, Russia and the United States.
Colombia has available a total water area of 712,000 hectares, 1600 of which are lakes. Some 98% of the total water reserves are concentrated in 40 large artificial lakes and lagoons, for a surface area of more than 65,000 hectares. The hot climate (below 1000 meters) holds 16% of the artificial lakes, while the temperate climate (between 1000 and 2000 meters) has 50% and the remaining 34% are above 2000 meters in the cold climate.
Water is an essential resource for producing energy and for fighting thirst and hunger in the world. That is why the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) stresses that these Colombian lakes and lagoons hold a great potential for aquaculture: they could be the sites of development projects for raising fish in floating cages or in enclosures.
We can add to this that the rivers, lakes and lagoons of Colombia are wonderful areas where the relaxing sound of water cancels out the chaotic noise of the cities. It is water that provides peace.