Colibita Lake drainage uncovers shocking discovery

Local authorities have known about the ticking “ecologic bomb” for at least five years, but they haven’t addressed it, because “they didn’t find anything.” After the television channel PRO TV aired its report about the irregularities found at the Colibita Lake, guesthouse owners vanished.

Colibita, the artificial lake located at the foot of the Kelemen/Călimani Mountains, just 40 km away from Beszterce/Bistrita city, has become attractive for both Romanian and foreign tourists due to its virgin beauty and opportunities for leisure: kayaking on the lake, swimming, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, river rafting on the Bistrita river, and interesting activities that kept tourists coming, allowing the area to flourish. It is surrounded by wooded hills, at the foot of which a fine sand beach was set up. On the shore of the lake tourists can find accommodation in guesthouses and board and lodgings, or rent bungalows located close to the water.

Colibita Lake. Photo by: István Fekete

Last year Ioan Deneș, the Minister of Waters and Forests, announced a rehabilitation process in order to polish the beauty of the Colibita Lake and its surroundings. So during the autumn, the lake was drained to prepare the ground for the dredging work scheduled for spring 2019. What he didn’t know that this would uncover the ongoing illegalities that have transformed this corner of paradise into an ecologic bomb that has been ticking for years.
All the guesthouses located on the shore are modern buildings that satisfy the needs of every tourist. The Fisherman’s Resort, for example, is a three-star hotel. There is a major problem, which was signaled to the authorities by some locals: a sewage disposal system is missing from the entire area.

As the water disappeared from the lake bed illegalities came to the surface that transformed this paradise into an ecologic bomb: the sewage produced by all the guesthouses and surrounding houses was emptied directly into the lake through improvised pipes. In other words, the tourists who enjoyed their time taking a bath in the water of the Mountain See – as the lake is called by locals – were actually bathing in a container of greywater or blackwater, as shown in the report.

Sewage pipes surfaced after the drainage

Right after the images aired on the national television channel, local authorities ordered immediate on-site control, but apparently the news of the investigation arrived earlier than the inspectors, because guesthouse owners closed their businesses and disappeared. The Beszterce/Bistrita County Prefecture, the environmental guard and water authority inspectors, walked from house to house to check whether they empty their sewage into the lake.

This isn’t the first instance of such control, because the authorities had previously suspected that some people were polluting the lake; hence a committee was established in 2014 for this purpose. The problem was that the inspectors couldn’t find anything during their on-site control, since the presence of the water prevented them from reaching the pipes. Activists say the water pollution has been ongoing for years, and they fear an ecologic catastrophe.

Author: István Fekete