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Life no longer rosy as Senegal's Pink Lake turns green

STORY: Senegal's Pink Lake is now green.

Extreme floods last year contaminated the water, altering the ecosystem responsible for what was the water's unusual color.

Now life for the salt farmers who earn their livings here is looking less than rosy.

Torrential rains in September swept flood waters towards the lake.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of salt was washed away, according to the local salt extractors association.

The floods also gouged a wide channel through the bank - changing the composition of the previously salt-rich water.

Salt farmer Papa Sira Ba fears that this will be their last harvest.

"Since this water channel was created, we have lost a lot of money that we don't even think we can recover. This is the first time we have seen so much water come in here. We have witnessed many rainy seasons, but what is happening this year is unprecedented.”

The lake's environment of high salinity and rare microrganisms has long fostered an algae that created the pinkish colour.

But hydrologist Cheikh Youm fears the ongoing dilution with sediment-heavy water could cause the salt, and the elements that make the lake pink, to disappear.

It could, he said, amount to a "death warrant".

That's left the 3,000 people who live off the lake fearing for their future.

They include the salt farmers as well as boatman and souvenir sellers.

The lake, officially known as Lake Retba, is one of Senegal's most visited attractions and is under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Right now it's peak tourist season.

But Abou Dieng, who owns a small campsite and boat hire business, says there are no customers.

The visitors who once liked to float on top of the lake, as in the Dead Sea, have dried up - leaving Dieng and others waiting in vain.