As the government ramps up efforts to boost tourism and promote Lake Toba as a premier tourist destination, North Sumatra’s iconic lake continues to be plagued by water pollution.
The discovery was made recently by a team of researchers from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who are currently conducting a more in-depth study on how the environmental problem has affected the lake’s ecosystem.
In their initial study, the team found that the lake’s water had been polluted with industrial waste, keramba (floating net cages for fish farming) and the drainage of dirty water from neighboring rivers.
“Our provisional results showed that pollution covers around 30% of the lake,” said Krismono, coordinator of the research team. Jakarta Post recently.
The most significant pollution occurred near the industrial area, the river estuary and areas where keramba are installed, said Krismono.
The research was conducted amid the recent deaths of thousands of tonnes of fish in kerambas in the Baktiraja district of the Humbang Hasundutan regency, located in the southern part of the lake.
A total of five such incidents have occurred this year in several parts of the lake, including some in another regency.
Water pollution, Krismono added, was a factor that contributed to the death of the fish, but kerambas being used to rear fish beyond their capacity is believed to be the main cause of the incident.
“It’s still a warning. This situation must be resolved immediately.
A total of six people are involved in the team carrying out the research which began on November 27. Scheduled to be completed on December 6, the research follows on from the previous study in August which aims to support the government’s plan to make Lake Toba a pollution-free international tourist attraction.
The August study found that the main source of pollution in the lake was water from 25 polluted rivers flowing into it.
Recognized as the largest volcanic lake in the world at 87 kilometers long and 27 km wide with the breathtaking natural beauty of the island of Samosir at its center, Lake Toba spans seven regencies in the province, including Humbang Hasundutan, Toba Samosir, Karo and North Tapanuli.
Albert Sidabutar, the spokesperson for the Toba Samosir regency, which covers a large area in the south-eastern part of the lake, confirmed that the lake has been polluted for a long time, with his regency being one of those contributing to the damage. environmental.
The pollutants in his area, he added, came from the industrial area and eventually spilled into the river that flows into the lake.
“We tried [to resolve the problem], but it takes a long time because the solution depends on educating residents, ”said Albert.
The administration of Toba Samosir, he added, has launched several campaigns and training events for residents to raise awareness of the environment and foster a sense of belonging to the lake and a shared responsibility to keep it. own.
The picturesque Lake Toba, which some consider to be the “Monaco of Asia”, is one of the 10 new priority destinations of the National Strategic Tourism Plan, which was recently launched by the government.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently inaugurated the Silangit International Airport at North Tapanuli and the Medan-Tebing Tinggi toll road to support the plan of the 10 new destinations, which have also been dubbed the new Balis.
Before gaining its place in the priority list, the image of Lake Toba had declined in recent years.