Following up on my last addressing some of the legal aspect involved with building in lake atitlan here are some updates related to the new legal disposition taken by the government consequently to the ciano-bacteria crisis witnessed in october - november 2009.
As you might know by now the President and particularly his wife Miss Sandra Torres have been taking the problem at heart and demanding result from the different authorities which have direct relation with the enviromental administration of the RUMCLA, (Lake Atitlan Reserve of Multiple Use).
The most public act has been installing an “aireador”, Aeromix brand, in front of Panajachel. A floating device solar powered, which circulates the water and supposed to have an impact up to 3 hectares around it... Well the fabulous machine didn't last more than 2 days as the strong waves which agitated the lake in the evening sunk it according to the authorities. Fortunately they recuperate the instrument which is under reconstruction and will be installed in areas less subject to strong waves. This one was donated by the company which fabricates them to experiment it. As 8 others are expected to be bought an installed around the lake... Knowing that 130 at least of them would be necessary to cover properly the area.
Now in order to speed up the legal action in the area the government is going to install "una fiscalia del medio ambiente" this is a special environmental branch of the justice department to give them the legal tool to sanction the infractors.
In order also to oblige the house owners around the lake to comply with the law they have issued a gouvernment agreement , the 51-2010, which gives 3 months to the house owners around the lake and 18 months to the villages to comply with a more resumed version of the 236-2006 gubernative agreement , 15/05/2006 of residual water...
As you might know by now, any building project around the lake needs the green light from the CONAP- MARN before starting. Through the form of an Environmental Impact study (Estudio de Impacto Ambiental ) or Initial Environmental Evaluation (Evaluacion Ambiental Inicial). As it is of public knowledge most of the houses build in the last 3 years not to speak the last 10 years lack of any of these instrument, despite it is mandatory according law....
Atitlan Solutions building division has been working closely with the Ministry of Environment for its last on going projects in order to comply with the law and overly the experience has been very productive achieving compliance in reasonable times.
Now the situation as drastically changed since the ciano-bacteria event. It put a lot of scrutiny on the activities going on around the lake. Plus it is strategic for the government to work on the issue as the Lake basin is a good reservoir for electoral votes. Don't forget in 2 years we have presidential election and it wouldn't. So right now the government through the MARN (Ministry of Environment) is going to ask to all the house owner on the shore and around the lake to produce their EIA, and if you don't have it you could be subject to a fine from Q. 5,000 to Q. 100,000. What are we supposed to do... Remember we are foreigners and we have a bigger obligation in respecting the law. Why? Because we are coming from countries where we are used to respect them ( The Ministry of the Environment in an article published in Prensa Libre said that he welcome all the foreigners and investors under the premise they obey the law as he is asked to do when he goes up North) and second because we could be instrumented from the government to show his work in protecting the lake. Already the hoteles owners and the “Chaleteros” have been mentioned as contaminators.
According to the MARN the persons who don't have an EIA should ask for a “diagnostico ambiental” which is as an EAI but for houses already build. The diagnostico will look at your house and check that you are complying with current regulation and make comments of what should be improved. After that it goes to MARN which will look at it and then confirm the diagnostico or ask for improvements. So with the DIAGNOSTICO you are in order with the law of areas protegidas (Protected Areas) but you will still have to comply with the new AG 51-2010. Which is a technical study of your black waters to determine that your sewage treatment is not contaminating. And that you are under the limits of the AG 51-2010. It is according the MARN the only way to say for you that your are complying with this particular requirement. This study should be kept in your house and presented upon any request from the MARN. And it is why we have 3 month to get it as after that if we cannot produce it we could be object of a fine....But at the moment I cannot tell you how to do it as the MARN has not issued which laboratories are legally authorized to produce these kind of analyses....
So much to want to comply...
Any way for the ones interested to start with the DIAGNOSTICO AMBIENTAL I have negociated with the engineer I work with, who is authorized to make them, as has successfully submitted several EIO already a special rate as several of the neighbors could be interested to get their papers in order. If you have already a plan by a legal surveyor and the plan of your house the cost is Q 5,750.00 if you don't have them the cost is Q 7,750.00
Plese contact me for more información at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might have noticed 2 new grey big lanchas from the Guatemalan Marine with 15 soldiers. They are based in Panajachel and they are going to make a census of the boat around the lake. They will instruct and train the lancheros drivers and give them a boat driving license. Then they are considering to make a boat reglament for the lake and finally issued boat permit for every boat owners... It might take some times... They have calculated that 400 boats navigates on the lake of which 150 carried passengers..
More in the future.
Some might had received the visit of OCRET employees. The OCRET is expected to open an office in Panajachel or Solola in order to make a cadastre of the Reservas de la Nacion which are the land comprised between the lake shore back 200 mts... According the law every person who possess a piece of land should contact OCRET in order to regularize their possetion. Well as you know very few of us has done that and according their numbers only 153 contracts have been issued all around the lake which is maybe even not 5% of the total of what should be registered with them. But the government is definitively interested in raising the number of the contracts in order to exercise a better control of what 's going on in these areas and collect money through the rental contracts they will issues. From this money 40% should go back to the lake to help improve the management of the protected area.
Some of the neighbors might not want to get in the ordeal of going to the city back and forth to get their contract. Atitlan Solutions has been getting contract for its clients and make the process easy. So don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested in this administrative process.
For the moment and looking forward to hear comments or questions