Bio-remediation is the process of using beneficial microorganisms to restore environments to health in situations where humans or environmental catastrophes have caused a degradation of the environment. The beneficial bacteria 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.
Bio-remediation 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.
Producing Beneficial Microorganisms
The beneficial microorganisms used for bio-remediation 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. This solution is then 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 bio-remediation solution to supply all the wastewater treatment plants and distribute to farmers and businesses.
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”.
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 at Lake Atitlán both to 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.
LAEIG plans to build several production facilities for Effective Microorganisms (EM) and to use the beneficial microorganisms to combat the pathogens and chemical fertilizer problems at their sources.