Since the administration of former Granada Mayor Silvio Urbina (1990-1996) and his predecessors, Tatiana Raskoski (1997-2000) and Luis Jerónimo Chamorro (2001-2004), there have been environmental education campaigns, financed by foreign capital, mostly from the Japanese government, about the importance of protecting and preserving LakeCocibolca, also known as Lake Nicaragua.
There have also been creative and ample education campaigns, with the help of nongovernmental organizations, such as the Casa del Los Tres Mundos and Danish cooperation from group PASMA-DANIDA, to teach Granadinos to not throw garbage or any liquid or solid waste in rivers or other runoffs that lead directly to Lake Nicaragua.
These campaigns also came up with the very catchy and memorable phrase, “the riverbed is not your personal dump, rather your neighborhood garden.”
These educational campaigns have been disseminated for months in different neighborhoods and schools, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.
Yet despite these efforts, which have been focused mostly on the younger population, it is still difficult to measure the quantitative impact the campaigns have had.
Regardless, it is clear that we must continue with these campaigns in a sustained manner and to promote them even more, using different angles and mechanisms to get the message across.
The Ministry of Education, on both the municipal level and in the classroom, should work systematically with children and students to change the habits we have of throwing garbage on the ground. We need to deposit garbage in its place.
The Municipality of Granada needs to improve garbage collection services; we need to make an effort to improve our means to collect, transport, deposit and process the garbage that we produce in this municipality. And in homes, people need to start learning to separate their garbage from items that can be recycled. We also need to contract a company to recycle these items.
We also need to designate certain municipal inspectors to inspect the different riverbeds. It is a shame, the lack of consideration and lack of conscience of some people who use the riverbeds as garbage dumps. If necessary, penalties should be established for those who litter.
Industrial businesses that generate waste need to invest in waste treatment and contribute with direct actions geared toward organizing groups of citizens, workers or student brigades to help clean up the environment.
Granada is crossed west to east by a system of three waterways known as Zacateligue, Aduana and La Villa Sandio. Each of those three major riverbeds have their own secondary runoffs that run north to south across the city, serving as drainage for rain and other water flow from the Laguna de Apoyo to Lake Nicaragua.
Four years ago, these riverbeds and runoffs were clean. But because of the growth in population and the irresponsibility of many citizens, they have been converted into foul-smelling centers of putrid water that are filled with mosquito larva and garbage that later gets washed into the lake.
It is time to end these bad practices and to become conscientious of what we are doing. We need to take energetic measures to put garbage in its rightful place.
Fernando López is an architect and a City Councilman of Granada.