In 2009, with the surprising outbreak of the cyanobacteria, Amigos, in alliance with the Universities of San Carlos, Rafael Landivar and Del Valle of Guatemala; and the stateside universities at Chico, Davis and Reno, Nevada, began to investigate the cause of the sudden deterioration of the lake.
In 2011, Amigos created in Santa Catarina Palopo, the Center for Investigation of Amigos of Atitlan (CICAA), to facilitate the work of the team and to guarantee the continuity of their scientific work.
Since its opening, we have received several groups of scientists and students from foreign and Guatemalan universities that support the rescue of Atitlan. There have been four major scientific expeditions, with the participation of more than forty people, experts and students. These expeditions have been followed by periodical monitorings and investigations which have all been in part, financed by Amigos.
The results of the investigations are worrisome, but the information generated has been key to orienting our effort to define punctual actions, for us in restoring the lake.
- The investigations concluded that the principal cause of the accelerated deterioration of the lake is the discharge of sewage generated by the more than 400,000 inhabitants.
- These waters loaded with pathogens, are rich in nitrogen and phosphorus which is the main source of food for cyanobacteria. Although these nutrients exist also in soil, fertilizers, and soaps, in sewage water they are highly nourishing to cyanobacteria.
- The Lake has reached its maximum level of saturation, and with the constant Inflow of sewage we do not give it the opportunity to regenerate itself.
- If the same conditions persist, scientist believe that by the year 2020 Lake Atitlan will be a lake impossible to save.