Lago de Valencia
|Catchment area||2,646 km²|
|Surface area||350 km²|
|Average depth||18 m|
|Max. depth||39 m|
|Surface elevation||410 m|
Lake Valencia (Spanish: Lago de Valencia) is the third largest lake in Venezuela, exceeded in size only by Lake Maracaibo and the artificial Lake Guri. It occupies one of the so-called Aragua valleys, enclosed between the parallel mountain ranges of the Cordillera de la Costa, the Maritime Andes. One part is within the limits of Carabobo State and the other within Aragua. Its surface is 410 m above sea level, is about 30 km long, has an area of 350 km², and a catchment basin of 2,646 km², and lies partly in the state of Aragua. The maximum depth is 39 m, the mean depth 18 m.
The lake has a number of small islands, some inhabited, and receives the waters of a score of small streams from the surrounding mountains. The lake is endorheic, as the natural discharge level is at 427 m above sea level; the water level declined below this height about 250 years ago. It was formed approximately 2-3 million years ago due to faulting and subsequent damming of the Valencia River. The lake has been completely dry during several discrete periods of its geologic history. Since 1976 Lake Valencia water levels have risen due to diversion of water from neighboring watersheds—it currently acts as a reservoir for the surrounding urban centers (such as Maracay and Valencia, Carabobo).
The lake suffers from algal blooms caused by continual influx of untreated wastewater from the surrounding urban, agricultural, and industrial land uses. This contributes to ongoing eutrophication, contamination, and salinization of the lake. Despite its picturesque location between the Cordillera de la Costa to the north and the Serrania del Interior to the south, Lake Valencia's poor water quality limits opportunities for tourism and recreational activities. Due to pollution and other human induced changes, almost 60% of the native fish species in the lake were lost between 1960 and 1990. Among the fish in the lake is the diamond tetra, which is commonly kept in aquaria, while two species of catfish, Lithogenes valencia and Pimelodella tapatapae are entirely endemic to the lake basin.
The most important river emptying into the lake is the Aragua River. Others include the El Limón River, Guacara River, Güigüe River, Mariara River and Turmero River, which flow through or near their respective cities, El Limón, Guacara, Güigüe, Mariara and Turmero.
- López-Rojas, H., and A. L. Bonilla-Rivero (2000) Anthropogenically induced fish diversity reduction in Lake Valencia Basin, Venezuela. Biodiversity & Conservation 9(6): 757-765
- Hales, J., and P. Petry (2013). Orinoco High Andes. Freshwater Ecoregions of the World. Retrieved 5 March 2013
- "Lake Valenica, Venezuela". NASA Earth Observatory. Retrieved 2006-05-18.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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