New Algae bloom in Lake Atitlan

Since 2009 Lake Atitlan had not experiment a blooming of this importance.. But these last two years have been particularly hot and dry. The temperature of the lake has been rising and currently above 23o C which is very hot for a lake of this size at this altitude.

 Amsclae the high authority in charge of the quality of the water in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala has issued the following report:

 
 
Solola, August 19, 2015

 
One concern of the institutions involved in the conservation and study of Lake Atitlan, is the deterioration of the same, which leads to the proliferation of algae, and in particular may result in a flowering of cyanobacteria. On Monday August 3rd of this year, a proliferación cyanobacteria was reported, which was later determined to be caracterized as flourishing level (greater than 2 million cells / liter). Following this event, the Department of Research and Environmental Quality Authority for the Sustainable Management of the Basin of Lake Atitlan and its surroundings (AMSCLAE) in coordination with the University del Valle of Guatemala highlands campus (CEA - UVG) conducted one limnological sampling on 5 and 10 August. During monitoring, water samples were taken for analysis, which was performed on the two institutions mentioned.According to the analysis of samples of phytoplankton, three genera of dominant  cyanobacteria were encountered and Limnoraphis Dolichospermun and were accompanied by Microcystis, all of  the Phylum Cyanobacteria. The analysis performed on a sample taken on August 17 determined that only
Limnoraphis predominated. Counting and identifying the microscope does not determine the presence or absence of toxicity, therefore Asociación Friends of Lake Atitlan sent water samples from the lake abroad (University of California, Davis and University of Wausau) in coordination with AMSCLAE, UVG  - IARNA and for the analysis of cyanotoxins and is awaiting the results. If it turns out that this blooming produces cianotoxinas, this could represent a serious threat to the health of the population.
 
The high
temperature of the environment and water  due to prolonged heat wave, and the availability of nutrients in the lake, then the income from runoff of the rainy season from May to July to Lake Atitlan and the steady income from sewage, create conditions conducive to the development of phytoplankton.
 
Importantly, this is not the first flowering of cyanobacteria in Lake Atitlan. In 2009 has been
the strongest  flourishing in the lake to date, and from that year was reported, there have been other smaller blooms. In 2009 and 2013 samples were sent for toxicological analysis and found negative. The increase today is the strongest  since 2009 and is considered to not be the last.
 

AMSCLAE with the support of national and international scientific community, the College of Engineers Guatema (IGC), the Guatemalan Association of Sanitary Engineering (AGISA), the Regional School of Sanitary Engineering (ERIS) and non-governmental environmental organizations and government present in the department of Solola, are promoviend since mid-2012, the development of a comprehensive master management of sewage and drinking water in the municipalities of Lake Atitlan Basin plan. Funding to execute this plan come from a grant from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and are being managed by the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). Unfortunately, the plan was stalled. The development and implementation of the plan is INFOM sole and absolute responsibility and the risk of losing the donation runs.

 
General recommendations for prevention to the population1. Do not be alarmed, these recommendations are specifically preventive. 

2. Do not drink the water directly from the lake ..
3. If fish are eaten, should be cleaned properly, removing the skin, gills and
       
internal organs.. 

4. It is not advisable to swim in the lake and recreational activities in it as long as this danger. If you do it is at your own risk.
 5. Do not wash or irrigate vegetables with this type of water. 
6. Basin communities which  take their drinking water directly from the lake, must: 
    Start storing rainwater for consumption when it rains.
    Filtering of the water with carbon filters to make it suitable for consumption.
 
7. Do not get in the water to remove cyanobacteria, that does not help.  

     Draw it stimulates their growth. 
8. Do not perform cleanups of lake water for the duration of the flowering 
9. Be pending AMSCLAE releases for information on the results of monitoring prepared by the relevant institutions.
Therefore, the departmental coordinator for disaster risk reduction (CODRED) institutional declares yellow alert cianaobacteria outcropping on Lake Atitlan.

 
Any questions contact:informacion@amsclae.gob.gt


Atitlan Solutions is an active member of Lake Atitlan Friends of the lake Asociation always looking for solutions to contribute to a better lake. Right now we have a fundraising going through Indiegogo to equipped a laboratory to study the lake scientifically.. feel free to contribute at the following link.


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