Many hopes in Nicaragua are pinned to a plan to build a $40 billion, 173-mile route that will bring shipping from the Caribbean Sea through to the Pacific Ocean and lift the Central American country out of poverty. Work on the project could begin as soon as December.

Despite its ambition, or perhaps because of it, the project, which is set to be executed by a relatively unknown Chinese billionaire, has engendered some serious pushback. From the Associated Press

While the new waterway – set to rival the Panama canal – has the support of the president, Daniel Ortega, and most Nicaraguans, many legal experts claim it violates the country's national sovereignty. Environmental experts warn construction could cause profound ecological damage by damming rivers, splitting ecosystems and moving untold tons of earth. Others fear the project is not economically feasible.

Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty explains, just one of the potential problems:

Lake Nicaragua has the highest concentration of drinking water in Latin America. This canal could mean tragedy for the many Nicaraguans in the region. Transformed into a marine shipping route Lake Nicaragua would quite possibly no longer provide drinkable water or freshwater for local agriculture. 

To be fair, Nicaragua does mean "surrounded by water."