The lake under Pacaya volcano
(in background right)
|Primary inflows||Villalobos River|
|Primary outflows||Michatoya River|
|Catchment area||368 km2 (100 sq mi)|
|Max. length||11 km (6.8 mi)|
|Max. width||3 km (1.9 mi)|
|Surface area||15.2 km2 (5.9 sq mi)|
|Max. depth||33 m (108.3 ft)|
|Water volume||0.286 km3 (0.1 cu mi)|
|Surface elevation||1,188 m (3,897.6 ft)|
|Settlements||Amatitlán, Villa Canales, Villa Nueva|
Lake Amatitlán (Lago Amatitlán, Spanish pronunciation: [la?o amati'tlan]) is a lake located within the Amatitlán caldera in south-central Guatemala, fairly close to Guatemala City. It lies in the central highlands, 1,186 m (3890 feet) above sea level. Its maximum depth is 33 m (108 feet) and an average of 18 m (59 feet). The lake is 11 km (7 miles) long and 3 km (2 miles) wide; with an area of 15.2 square kilometers (5.9 sq mi) and a water volume of 0.286 cubic kilometers.
The lake's primary inflow is the Villalobos River, and the lake is drained by the Michatoya River, an important tributary of the María Linda River. The town of Amatitlán is situated at the head of the Michatoya river. A dam with a railway on top was constructed at the narrowest point, thus effectively dividing the lake into two water bodies with different physical, chemical and biological characteristics: a north-western and a south-eastern basin.
The lake is used as a water source, for navigation and transportation, sightseeing and tourism (10,000 visitors annually), recreation (swimming, sport-fishing, water skiing, yachting) and fisheries.
Amatitlán lake's catchment area includes Guatemala City. Each year large quantities of untreated sewage, industrial waste and a staggering 500,000 tons of sediment are carried into the lake through the Villalobos River. This has contributed to high levels of pollution of the lake's water, and an accelerated eutrophication and siltation. This has seriously affected the lake's former function as a source of drinking water and irrigation, and reduced its recreational functions.
In early 2015, the Lake Amatitlan Authority commission granted a contract to the Israeli company M. Tarcic Engineering Ltd. for 137.8 million quetzals, to purchase 93 000 liters of an alleged decontaminant that it would apply to Lake Amatitlán. However, after complains and legal action from scientists, academia, politicians and environmentalists who questioned the Israeli company contract, then vice president Roxana Baldetti suspended the project on 30 March 2015 and froze both the payment to the company and any decontaminant pouring into the lake. Furthermore, Baldetti was forced to resign in early May 2015 due to the La Linea corruption case.
Media related to Lago de Amatitlán at Wikimedia Commons