Explore African Great Lakes

Kivu is a deep lake located at high elevation in the mountains of the rift valley, between DRC and Rwanda. It is 1460 m above sea level (ASL), covers 2,370 km 2,and has a maximum depth of 485 m, 240 m average. The area is densely populated, with about half a million people in the lakeshore cities of Goma and Bukavu and dense rural population along the DRC lake shore. Protected areas on the DRC lakeshore are the Rutshuru Reserve to the north and the small Bushyeni Reserve on Isle Idjwi. Both of these have been largely lost to agriculture and rural population expansion. The lake shows characteristics typical of an area with active volcanism including mineral deposits of volcanic origin in the lake sediments and large quantities of dissolved gasses in the deep water. The water is estimated to contain 250 km 3 of carbon dioxide, 55 km 3 of methane and 5 km 3 of nitrogen. There is concern that a catastrophic release of gas from the lake could occur, much larger than the Lake Nyos, Cameroon event that killed 1,700 villagers in 1986. The lake’s me thane is being developed as an energy source in Rwanda, with a 4 megawatt pilot plant and plans for a 100 megawatt plan t in future. Processing the gas-rich deeper water from the lake will release large quantities of greenhouse gasses. No comparable energy development is being undertaken in DRC. The lake has few fish species, about 23 with 15 endemics. Estimates of the maximum fisheries potential of the lake range from 7,000—19,000 tons/year. Ecological problems in the lake include over fishing, pollution from raw sewerage, introduction of fish species (lake sardine) and the consequent loss of the main plankton-grazing shrimp.