chapter  7
1 Pages

Water Contamination and its Impact on Vegetable Production in the Rı´mac River, Peru

ByHenry Juarez

The rapid growth of population in Lima is leading to an expansion of unplanned informal settlements which lack many basic urban services such as waste management, clean water and drainage. Combined with poor farming practices, these settlements create the perfect conditions for large amounts of run-off. This run-off contains waste products, for instance from overflowing septic systems, that affect surface waters, the environment and ultimately the health of food producers and consumers. The latter face risks from waterborne diseases, while the farmers are also affected by skin ailments and intestinal problems. Due to the scarcity of clean water and lack of adequate treatment of domestic sewage, the use of contaminated water is a common practice which sustains farmers’ livelihoods in urban and peri-urban areas. Lima is merely one of many international cities located at the mouth of a large river, many of which face the same environmental problems that directly impact on water quality. Typically, such waters are polluted by excessive quantities of nutrients, plus they are contaminated with pathogens and toxic chemical substances that affect both the ecosystem and the public’s health (Lee-Smith and Prain, 2006).