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American team of scientists help protect Guatemala's Lake Atitlan
Date:6/22/2010

RENO, Nev. A team of scientists from the University of Nevada, Reno, DRI, Arizona State University and University of California, Davis has returned from a two-week expedition to Guatemala's tropical high-mountain Lake Atitlan, where they are working to find solutions to the algae blooms that have assailed the ecosystem and the drinking water source for local residents.

The lake's water is contaminated with watershed runoff and waste water, which contributes to increased algae growth and suitable conditions for bacteria and pathogens such as, Escherichia coli and Giardia that can proliferate and enter untreated drinking water.

In 2009, the Global Nature Fund designated Guatemala's Lake Atitlan as its "Threatened Lake of the Year."

"It was super-productive working with Guatemalan officials, scientists and universities in our capacity building project," Sudeep Chandra, co-team leader from the University of Nevada's Department of Natural Resources said. "It's important to develop a relationship with the locals to coordinate conservation work and build their capacity to find solutions."

Eliska Rejmankova, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy from U.C. Davis, initiated the collaborative project.

"We want to work with these groups and help train Guatemalan students to develop local capacity to conserve one of the most beautiful highland tropical lakes in the world," Rejmankova said. "We want to work with local scientists to develop alternative strategies, based around the idea that the solution to the algae problem is to address the sources of nutrient loading into the lake, so water going into the lake will be as clean as possible."

Chandra, a professor of limnology and resource conservation, said that about 18 months ago the high-elevation lake turned a yellowish brown, a combination of years of raw sewage and inorganic fertilizers entering the lake and then natural processes wit
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Contact: Mike Wolterbeek
mwolterbeek@unr.edu
University of Nevada, Reno
Source:Eurekalert  

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