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LAGO TITICACA (LAKE TITICACA)

An inlet of Lago Pequeno with totora stands and totora boats
Photo.
Photo: T.Kira

A. LOCATION

  • Puno, Peru; and La Paz, Bolivia.
  • 14:07-17:08S, 68:02-71:06W; 3,812 m above sea level.
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B. DESCRIPTION

Lake Titicaca is the largest freshwater lake in South America, located on the border between Peru and Bolivia between the two snowy mountain ranges of East and West Cordillera in the central Andes. The lake is 8,372 km2 wide, including both the deep main basin (Lago Mayor) and the shallow sub-basin (Lago Pequeno), and its altitude (3,812 m) is unrivalled among large lakes of this size class in the world.

The distribution of old coastal terraces indicates that a huge body of water reaching as far south as the Uyuni Depression once existed during an inter- glacial period of the Pleistocene, but the lake's size has been greatly reduced due to the increasing aridity of climate and the formation of an effluent stream. The water of Titicaca is now drained via the Rio Desaguadero into Lago Poopo, which, however, has no outlet to the sea.

The whole catchment area on the high plateau of Altiplano remains almost treeless, and is covered by coarse grasses with scattered fields of potato, barley, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and the other local crops. The lake is fringed by a swampy zone of totora (Scirpus tatora), which is indispensable for the life of inhabitants on the shore, furnishing materials for the famous reed-boats and floating gardens where they grow potatoes.

The line between Puno (Peru) at the northwestern end of the lake and Guaqui (Bolivia) on the southwestern shore is an important shipping route for Bolivia. an inland country without seaside territory. Recent development of cities with manufacturing industry and a few sightseeing sites are going to affect the quality of the lake water to a certain extent.

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C. PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS (Q, 3)

Surface area [km2] 8,372
Volume [km3] 893
Maximum depth [m] 281
Mean depth [m] 107
Water level Unregulated
Length of shoreline [km] 1,125
Residence time [yr] 1,343
Catchment area [km2] 58,000
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D. PHYSIOGRAPHIC FEATURES

D1 GEOGRAPHICAL

  • Sketch map:
    Fig. SAM-04-0l.
  • Number of outflowing rivers and channels (name):
    1 (Desaguadero R.).

D2 CLIMATIC

  • Climatic data at Puno, 1973 (Q)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann.
Mean temp. [deg C] 10.7 10.7 10.3 9.5 8.0 6.2 5.7 7.4 8.3 10.4 10.7 10.3 9.0
Precipitation [mm] 238 132 159 98 13 0 2 6 33 16 30 71 797
  • Number of hours of bright sunshine:
    3,034 hr yr-1.

    Fig. SAM-04-01
    Sketch map of the lake (Q).
  • Water temperature: Fig. SAM-04-02.

    Fig. SAM-04-02
    Seasonal trend of water temperature [deg C] profile, 1975 (1).
  • Mixing type:
    Monomictic.
  • Notes on water mixing and thermocline formation
    Thermal profiles in the lake show a thick epilimnion with relatively little difference between epilimnetic (16deg C max.) and hypolimnetic (11.ldeg C) temperatures. There is a period of almost complete overturn in the dry season from July to September.
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E. LAKE WATER QUALITY

E1 TRANSPARENCY [m](Q)

1973
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
5.3 4.5 5.8 6.5 7.0 8.5 10.0 10.5 8.7 9.3 6.2 6.0

E2 pH (Q)

Surface water: 8.6.

E3 SS [mg l-1](Q)

780.


    Fig. SAM-04-03
    Seasonal and vertical distribution of DO [mg l-1], 1975 (1).

E7 NITROGEN CONCENTRATION (2)

  • NO3-N [mg l-1]
1973
Depth [m] Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0-30 .060 .060 .065 .110 .120 .165 .240 .130 .105 .070 .115 .105
>30 .060 .085 .095 .190 .190 .130 .240 .120 .105 .060 .125 .120

E8 PHOSPHORUS CONCENTRATION

  • PO4-P [mg l-1]
1973
Depth [m] Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
0-30 .023 .016 .017 .013 .013 .016 .020 - .023 .016 .009 .007
>30 .065 .038 .049 .029 .044 .046 .027 - .039 .028 .016 .025
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F. BIOLOGICAL FEATURES

F1 FLORA (Q)

  • Emerged macrophytes:
    Scrirpus tatora, Hydrocotyle sp., Lilaeopsis sp.
  • Floating macrophytes:
    Lemna sp., Azolla sp.
  • Submerged macrophytes
    Myriophyllum elatinoides, Chara sp., Elodea potamogeton, Nitella clavata, Potamogeton strictus, Ruppia filifolia.
  • Phytoplankton
    Lyngbya vacuolifera, Anabaena sphaerica, Nodularia harveyaba, Ulothrix subtilissima, Oocystis borgei, Ankistrodesmus falcatus, Selenastrum minutum, Cyclotella stelligera.

F2 FAUNA

  • Zooplankton (Q)
    Copepoda (Boeckella titicacae, Microcyclops leptopus), Cladocera (Bosmina hagmanni), Rotifera (Asplanchna sp.).
  • Benthos:
    Taphius spp., Littoridina spp. (3).
  • Fish (Q)
    Orestias agassii, O. luteus, O. pentlandii, Trichomycterus rivulatus, Salmo gairdnerii, Basilichthys bonariensis.

F3 PRIMARY PRODUCTION RATE [g C m-2 day-1], 1973 (2)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann.
1.35 1.11 1.25 1.17 1.47 1.64 1.48 2.01 1.20 0.74 1.28 2.79 1.46

F4 BIOMASS

  • Phytoplankton [mg C m-3]
1973
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Ann.
17.4 58.5 29.4 23.5 30.9 30.9 28.1 29.3 16.7 13.5 13.2 28.0 26.8

    Fig. SAM-04-04
    Zooplankton biomass [g m-2], 1973 (1).

F5 FISHERY PRODUCTS

  • Annual fish catch [metric tons] 1980:
    6,327.
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G. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS (Pero only)

G1 LAND USE IN THE CATCHMENT AREA

1983
Area [km2] [%]
Natural landscape
- Woody vegetation 25 0.0
- Herbaceous vegetation 36,375 74.8
- Swamp 210 0.4
- Others 4,120 8.5
Agricultural land 2,500 5.2
Residential area 10 0.0
Others 5,380 11.1
Total 48,620 100.0
  • Main types of woody vegetation:
    Budelia ccolli, Polylepis incana.
  • Main types of herbaceous vegetation
    Festuca dolichopylla, Muhlenbergia fastigiata, Carex sp., Calamagrostis heterophylla, C. curvila.
  • Main species of swamp vegetation:
    Juncus sp., Scirpus sp.
  • Main kinds of crops:
    Barley, potato and quinoa.

G2 INDUSTRIES IN THE CATCHMENT AREA AND THE LAKE (Q)

1981
Gross product during the year [mill. Soles] No.of persons engaged No of establishments
Primary industry
- Agriculture* 1,809 3,200 31
- Fisheries 21 180 9
Secondary industry
- Manufacturing 1,027 869 22
- Mining 425 231 10
Tertiary industry N.A. 425 37

* Main agricultural products: Barley, potato and livestock (sheep, alpaca, llama).

G3 POPULATION IN THE CATCHMENT AREA (Q)

1981
Population Population density [km-2] Major cities (population)
Total 890,300 12.3 Juliaca (200,000), Puno Ilave, Ayaviri.

H.LAKE UTILIZATION

H1 LAKE UTILIZATION (Q)

Source of water, fisheries, navigation, tourism and recreation (sport- fishing).

H2 THE LAKE AS WATER RESOURCE (Q)

1982
Use rate [m3 sec-1]
Domestic 0.40
Irrigation 0.25
Industrial 0.004
Power plant 0.40
Others
- Breeding 0.29
- Mining 0.03
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J. WASTEWATER TREATMENTS (Peru only)

J1 GENERATION OF POLLUTANTS IN THE CATCHMENT AREA

f) Limited pollution without wastewater treatment.

J3 SANITARY FACILITIES AND SEWERAGE (Q)

  • Municipal sewerage system: Not present.
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M. LEGISLATIVE AND INSTITUTIONAL MEASURES FOR UPGRADING LAKE ENVIRONMENTS

M1 NATIONAL AND LOCAL LAWS CONCERNED (Peru)(Q)

  • Names of the laws (the year of legislation)
    1. Water Code (Law No. 17752)(1969)
  • Responsible authorities
    1. Ministry of Health (water quality) and Ministry of Agriculture (water managements)

N. SOURCES OF DATA

Questionnaire filled by Dr. Jose Vera Rivas Plata, the Peruvian Sea Institute, Callao.

  1. Hanek, G. (ed.)(1982) La Pesqueria en el Lago Titicaca (Peru), Presente y Futuro. Proyecto FAO-PER/76/022.
  2. Richerson, P., Widmer, C. & Kittel, T. (1977) The Limnology of Lake Titicaca (Peru-Bolivia), a Large High Altitude Tropical Lake. 79 pp. Univ. Calif. Davis.
  3. Serruya, C. & Pollingher, U. (1983) Lakes of the Warm Belt. 569 pp. Cambridge University Press, London.
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