The bay of Cohana, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca (between Bolivia and Peru), has suffered from eutrophication for the last 30 years. Heavy metals from mining activities in the basin have also entered the bay. While data on eutrophication are abundant, data on mining are scarce and public interventions have focused on the former. However, one of these interventions has been criticized for not taking into account the links between eutrophication and heavy metals. This article argues that the arguments underpinning what at first sight appears to be a scientific controversy are intermingled with a competition for the institutional space. It calls attention to the impact that power struggles between public agencies have on scientific controversies, an aspect to which political ecology has not devoted sufficient attention. However, paying attention to these issues is crucial if we are to craft management systems that address conflicts between organizations.

Bolivia, institutional competition, lake management, political ecology, pollution, scientific controversies

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