The Machángara River on Cuenca’s north side is running red and environmental officials are not sure why.
“At this point we don’t know and are in the process of investigating,” said Paul Vintimilla, Environmental Management director of ETAPA, the city’s utility company. “There have been landslides upstream and large amounts of reddish clay have fallen into the river, and this could be a factor.”
Vintimilla added that the degree of “reddishness” is extreme and chemical contamination has not been ruled out. “We are are determining if there is any environmental degradation and are looking into possible causes,” he said.
By law, if contamination by individuals or companies is determined, the perpetrators face prison sentences of three to five years.
ETAPA is asking for the public’s help in solving the mystery. They say that those who call the ETAPA hotline, 284 3999, do not need to identify themselves.