Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Nature

Ecosystem of Mývatn lake under threat from inadequate, faulty sewage treatment by hotels

By Staff

  • From Mývatn The unique beauty of Mývatn is being threatened by greed, conservationists fear. Photo/GVA

Conservationists fear that hotels by Mývatn lake are slowly destroying the lake and its ecosystem due greed and inaction by regulatory agencies. The Icelandic Environment Association Landvernd charges that hotels by Mývatn are repeatedly given exemptions from rules on sewage treatment which are supposed to protect the unique ecosystem of the lake.

Growing tourism threatens nature
The number of travellers who visit Mývatn has grown rapidly in recent years. New hotels have been built, and roughly two hundred new hotel rooms have been added around the lake, creating significant new stress on the lake and its ecosystem. 

Read more: Pollution of Mývatn to continue: Local municipal authorities cannot afford a sewage treatment plant

The chairman of Landvernd told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that one of these hotels, Hótel Laxá, a 80 room hotel which was built in 2013, is particularly problematic. Hótel Laxá has been marketed as an environmentally friendly hotel, but documents acquired by RÚV show that the hotel was warned in 2014 that its sewage treatment was faulty and that it was not receiving the proper, if any, maintenance.

Profit shouldn't be put ahead of nature 
The documents acquired by RÚV show that the company which sold the hotel the sewage treatment plant was extremely worried about its upkeep, and that it warned the local authorities that the plant was leaking sewage into the ground. Landvernd criticizes that the local authorities did not take any action against the hotel and that other hotels have been granted exemptions from the requirement to set up full three phase treatment plans, as required by law.

"People are not erring on the side of the ecosystem of Lake Mývatn, but the hotels who are profiting from their proximity to one of the most important natural treasures of Iceland." 

In an announcement to media the manager of Hótel Laxá claimed that there were no problems with the sewage treatment of the hotel, that the management had responded to all problems and that the hotel had not requested any exemptions from environmental regulations. The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reiterated its reporting on the matter, saying that the statement from the hotel went counter to what had been revealed in its reporting.

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