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Baija Tal (Gwalior), India.

Baija Tal (Gwalior), India.

Bioremediation uses beneficial microorganisms to restore environments to health where humans or environmental catastrophes have caused degradation.

With bioremediation, the beneficial microorganisms out-compete bad bacteria and pathogens and digest contaminants. In a healthy ecosystem, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms are constantly at work breaking down organic matter and keeping the ecosystem balanced and healthy. When an ecosystem is heavily and consistently contaminated, these beneficial organisms can’t survive the onslaught and die off. Bioremediation reintroduces these pollution-eating Effective Microorganisms [EM] in sufficient quantities and with adequate support so that they can restore and rebuild the ecosystem “from the ground up”.

Bioremediation offers proven, natural, and feasible solutions to Lake Atitlán’s problems of untreated sewage, putrefactive bacteria inflows, nutrient overloading, and chemically damaged soil. Beneficial microorganisms have been used worldwide to treat wastewater and remediate damaged soils for decades.

Beneficial microorganisms have been shown in many studies to both drastically reduce coliform levels and to increase plant yields and growth rates — thus, they can be used in the Lake Atitlán area to both treat wastewater and to improve soils to facilitate a transition to organic farming. The result will be that Lake Atitlán will have fewer sewage nutrients and fewer chemical nutrients flowing into it, allowing it to maintain a healthy balance while the longer-term solutions are implemented.

None of the wastewater treatment facilities serving Lake Atitlán come even close to properly treating sewage. Beneficial microorganisms are used worldwide in sewage treatment plants to speed up and increase the effectiveness of their processes and greatly reduce their outflow parameters — reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids, and drastically reducing sludge and coliforms such as e-coli.

The Effective Microorganisms (EM) used for bioremediation consist of lactic acid bacteria (the same strains found in yogurt), yeasts (the same strains used to make bread and beer), and photosynthetic bacteria (the same strains that are in all healthy soil). Production is a 2-step process called “extension”. First, the beneficial microorganisms are combined with molasses and water. Then this solution is left to ferment in order to replicate or “extend” the beneficial microorganisms. With extension facilities around the lake, it would be possible to produce enough bioremediation solution to supply all the wastewater treatment plants and distribute to farmers and businesses.

Here is a UNICEF study that shows how effective EM is, and another study showing almost complete eradication of e-coli in a lake in Los Angeles. Here’s a playlist of 7 videos that explain how EM was used to remediate the Seto Inland Sea in Japan.