Can ‘Good Intentions’ Save Lake Atitlan From Sure Cyanobacteria Death?

Can ‘Good Intentions’ Save Lake Atitlan From Sure Cyanobacteria Death?

If channeled the right way, a group of scientists say: ‘yes’!

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 31, 2010

The world is filled with millions of good intentions, but still the world seems to be spiraling downward into a sea of chaos.

In the case of Lake Atitlan, the sea of chaos has turned into much ado about toxic cyanobacteria.

The green algae outbreak last year that covered 85 per cent of the surface of the 30,000 acre lake, has people scrambling for answers before it’s too late.

Since everybody concerned is searching, why not put those millions of good intentions to work?

What do we have to lose? Although it sounds a bit too “New Age” when times are desperate, the desperate will try anything.

And according to author Lynn McTaggart of The Intention Experiment and a group of scientists, good intentions directed in the right way can lead to practical results instead of just a lot of hot air.

“The Intention Experiment is a series of scientifically controlled, web-based experiments testing the power of intention to change the physical world,” wrote McTaggart, author of the top selling book, The Intention Experiment “Thousands of volunteers from 30 countries around the world have participated in Intention Experiments thus far.

McTaggart is the architect of the experiments which have included trying to reduce pollution at other lakes like Atitlan in an effort to harness thousands of good intentions at a certain designated time to bring about positive results.

She is working with physicists and psychologists from the University of Arizona, Princeton University, the International Institute of Biophysics, Cambridge University and the Institute of Noetic Sciences.These experiments are being run at McTaggart’s seminars and conferences and on the web, and have produced extraordinary results. Continue reading

Tourists Tell Sad Story About Lake Atitlan Algae Outbreak

Tourists Tell Sad Story About Lake Atitlan Algae Outbreak

Support coming from all over the world for new Save Lake Atitlan web site and relief organization

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 30, 2010

After the debut of Save Lake Atitlan Mission web site Monday, “more support and encouragement came in than expected,” according to a spokesman for the U.S. and Guatemalen based relief organization.

“We received a ton of emails, Skype messages and phone calls from people all over the world,” added a representative for Save Lake Atitlan Mission. “We are extremely encouraged by the pledges of support and spirit of cooperation shown, especially from locals at Lake Atitlan and Guatemala.”

The pledge by the relief organization to help bring unity to the growing problem of cyanobacteria pollution at the lake, as well as help fight poverty there, brought immediate support from local groups already working on the problems and from others experiencing the same cyanobacteria outbreaks in lakes in Canada and America in the form of a thick cover of green algae scum.

Save Lake Atitlan Mission is opening a meeting hall and relief center at the lake to help organize efforts to end the cyanobacteria problem.

“We are also going to deal with poverty on a daily basis and encourage those who need help to contact us or visit us at our new location at the lake starting in June,” said a message sent out by Save Lake Atitlan Mission, adding the specific location of the relief center will soon be announced.

Once known as the most beautiful lake in the world, now Lake Atitlan, a 1000 foot deep volcanic lake 130 square km in size, has been taken over by a massive bloom of cyanobacteria. It entered a toxic phase in 2009, which has caused people to scramble for solutions.

If solutions aren’t put into place quickly, it could mean the end of the basic source of water for the thousands of lake shore inhabitants as well as halting the livelihood of indigenous fisherman.

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Pollution and Poverty: Thorn in the Side Of Lake Atitlan

Pollution and Poverty: Thorn In the Side OF Lake Atitlan

Root causes must be weeded out before real solutions can be found

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 29, 2010

Modern western civilization has always been a big thorn in the side of indigenous cultures.

The Mayans of Guatemala are no exception.

When the west rubbed against most indigenous people in North, South and Central America, the indigenous people were rubbed out.

The Native American population map, enclosed in this article, is a perfect example of the “rubbing out” of the more than 150 cultures and Native American nations that existed before the arrival of west.

With each culture and nation, existed a language, a way of life and a spiritual belief system.

Now we see few native languages spoken, a way of life long forgotten and a spirtual belief system lost in the craziness of million dollar church steeples and Hollywood evangelistic TV shows.

The same type of westernization has occurred to the Mayans in Guatemala.

The only difference it is a poorer version of what goes on in the United States.

But the same “rubbing out’ of a once proud culture and people is still taking place to the Mayans today.

Facts tell us this and there is no getting around it, no rationalizing the fact westernization of both the United States and Guatemala have meant the possibility of extinction of both the Mayans and the Native Americans.

In Guatemala thee are roughly 13 million people, seven million being indigenous.

Poverty among the indigenous population is staggering.

On a recent local blog post translated from Spanish, here are a few words about poverty in Guatemala.

There was an article about Map International and their efforts to provide vitamins and medicines to the poor of Guatemala. According to the article ‘half of all the country’s children younger than 5 – more than 1 million boys and girls – suffer from chronic malnutrition. It is the highest malnourishment rate in Latin America. And it is the sixth-highest rate in the world.’

With the rising prices the malnutrition will surely escalate and as food and daily living expenses rise there will be more and more children whose parents are unable to send them to school. Education And More steps in to help fill that need!

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Groups Working Together To Solve Pollution And Poverty At Lake Atitlan

Groups Working Together To Solve Pollution And Poverty At Lake Atitlan

Efforts uncoordinated in past, but Santa Cruz por el Lago. Antigua Tours and Save Lake Atitlan Mission want unity.

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 28, 2010

A tour company in Antigua and a group of local business owners in Lake Atitlan are trying to raise awareness and funds to end pollution and poverty at was once known as the most beautiful lake in the world.

Admitting efforts to correct the cyanobacteria problem threatening the lake’s very existence have been ‘uncoordinated’ due to economic and political stumbling blocks, the group at Atitlan called Santa Cruz por el Lago is trying to change things, bring people together to solve the problems.

̈Locals, both Kakchikel indigenous, ladinos and local gringos, are all working together as volunteers trying to sort out the threats our community might pose towards our lake’s health,” said a representative of the committee Santa Cruz por el Lago.

Antigua Tours owner, Elizabeth Bell, is also lending a hand, putting some of the profits of her company behind the Save The Lake campaign.

“Antigua Tours by Elizabeth believes that it is our planet and our responsibility to preserve it. We have been very active in preserving Antigua over the past 40 years through efforts in looking for a balance between preservation and economic development,”aid owner Elizabeth Bell who started her company in 1992.

“While a group of people have worked for years trying to preserve Lake Atitlan, it took the lake’s ecological imbalance, particularly in 2009, to get everyone on board to preserve it. A true blessing in disguise! We join Save Lake Atitlan Mission directly in efforts to save Lake Atitlan. We do this by donating 5% of our lake reservations and in networking to save the lake!”

The company is putting its financial and moral support behind groups like Santa Cruz por el Lago, Save Lake Atitlan Mission and others, all trying to unite people behind one common cause: end pollution and poverty.

Save Lake Atitlan Mission is starting a new web site, hitting the web Monday, trying to unite people together from all over the world. Atitlan Mission will also have a local presence in Atitlan, opening up a Mission Hall in order to help overty conditions improve on a daily basis.

“We want to galvanize and bring good people together, using our web site as a world wide meeting place for everyone now involved in trying to solve the serious problems there,” said the head of Save Lake Atitlan Mission at

“There are many good people working to solve this problem, now working in many small groups. We want to feature all these people on our web site as well as raise more awareness and funds to solve problems.”

Adding to the message of unity, Santa Cruz por el Lago had this to say:

The worst effects are the contribution of phosphates in the black and gray water from LOCAL drainages, municipal run offs, pilas going directly in the lake, phosphate soaps used to wash inside the lake, which are not, in most cases, caused by tourism.

Most hotels around the lake, except for some in Panajachel, do not use the public drainage. For instance here in Santa Cruz business owners and ̈chaleteros̈ are the only ones who pay property taxes and hence contribute to the municipal budget. Still we build our own septic, pump our own water and take care of our own solid waste.

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New Save Lake Atitlan Mission Web Site Debuts Monday

New Save Lake Atitlan Mission Web Site Debuts Monday

It’s goal is to bring people together and raise world wide awareness of serious cyanobacteria pollution and poverty at Lake Atitlan

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 27, 2010

A new site will be hitting the web Monday March 29 called Save Lake Atitlan Mission, highlighting efforts to correct cyanobacteria pollution and poverty at Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalen Highlands.

“We want to galvanize and bring good people together, using our web site as a world wide meeting place for everyone now involved in trying to solve the serious problems there,” said the head of Save Lake Atitlan Mission.

“There are many good people working to solve this problem, now working in many small groups. We want to feature all these people on our web site as well as raise more awareness and funds to solve problems.”

Save Lake Atitlan Mission will be opening up a modest meeting hall at Lake Atitlan in June to help distribute daily necessities to the needy.

“We will have a presence locally as well as in the United States in order to help out,” added the spokesman for the group. “Please check out our web site to see what we will be doing and we encourage everyone to participate with suggestions and reports on how the serious problems concerning the lake are moving along.”

Here are the specific goals of the Save Lake Atitlan Mission

OUR GOALS at Save Lake Atitlan Mission are specific with progress monitored on a monthly basis in each area outlined below. This progress will be available in our monthly newsletter either online or in printed form.


Once known as the most beautiful lake in the world, now Lake Atitlan, a 1000′ deep volcanic lake 130 square km in size, has been taken over by a massive bloom of cyanobacteria that is now entering its toxic phase. If immediate action isn’t taken it may mean the end of the basic source of water for the thousands of lake shore inhabitants as well as halting the livelihood of indigenous fisherman.

Only cleaning up the toxic algae that covered 85 per cent of the lake last year, will not solve the problem. Cyanobacteria has become a world wide epidemic. The research and work to eradicate the deadly bacteria at other lakes in Canada, America and China all show that raw sewage and agricultural run-off of toxic chemicals must be checked and controlled. If not, the problem will only worsen to a point where beautiful Lake Atitlan will turn into a blue-green algae swamp pit.

Monitoring Cyanobacteria

Before a problem can be solved, it must first be understood.

Even though cyanobacteria was first detected in 1976, there has never been a comprehensive remote satellite imaging monitoring put into place. Although the algae outbreak became critical in the last two years and will return again, an accurate monitoring system has not been put into place.

Our first goal is to make sure this gets done. If not, then you will keep hearing conflicting reports from business, scientific and government organizations, sometimes all having conflicting and, at times, selfish interests.

Monitoring of Land

As does the water, the surrounding land near Lake Atitlan needs to be closely monitored by remote satellite imaging to get an accurate reading of the phosphate content, one of the main causes for toxic algae blooms.

This has not been done even though toxic agricultural run-off is a serious problem.

Our second goal is to make sure this gets done.

Raw Sewage Dumped Into Lake

Although Lake Atitlan is large at about 30,000 acres, it is a stagnant body of fresh water without any main tributaries flowing in or out. Presently, the more than 60,000 inhabitants and thousands upon thousands of tourists visiting annually have taken its toll.

The 12 towns and villages surrounding are without waste water treatment plants, the last one in Panajachel (20,ooo people), which was only marginally effective was knocked out in 2005 by Hurricane Stan.

Our third goal is make sure proper water treatment is accomplished.

Toxic Use of Chemically-Based Fertilizers, Harmful Agricultural Run-Off


Most rural Guatemalans depend upon agriculture, either as subsistence farmers or agricultural day laborers. Incomes are supplemented through small rural enterprises, especially the production of handicrafts.

The use of chemical fertilizer is widespread although awareness is growing about its harmful effects. However, it still hasn’t stopped U.S. companies from selling their toxic products, which has caused a major problem at Lake Atitlan due to harmful toxic run-off since since the lake is more or less like the bottom of a big bowl where everything settles.

Our fourth goal is to make sure the use of these chemical fertilizers stops.

Ecological Balance

This is a wide topic, consisting of the use of many methods to farm in harmony with nature and to fish in harmony with the natural eco-system.

Much can be done here. Two examples are (1) the introduction and planting of mushrooms to balance nature on land. Second, the control and removal of fish not natural to Atitlan’s eco-system brought into the lake to increase sport fishing dollars. The black bass introduced is a perfect example, which environmentalists say have drastically changed the balance of nature at Lake Atitlan.

Our fifth goal is to keep an eye on harmony between man and nature on both land and water.


It is estimated 75 per cent of the indigenous population in and around Lake Atitlan live in poverty, barely having enough for the necessities of life. Poverty leads to poor health and poor health eventually leads to early death.

It is also estimated the tourist industry brings in $30 million a year.

These statistics provide the perfect backdrop for a situation where the rich and poor are living side by side in a tight little area using the same natural resources.

Atitlan serves as a perfect microcosm demonstrating how the middle class can be swallowed up by the rich and spit out poor, the same thing happening in cities all over America.

There is essentially no middle class at Lake Atitlan, no middle standard of equality. It’s either rich or poor and the disparity is quite obvious with a simple walk in any of the 12 villages or towns surrounding the lake.

A wealthy hotel or restaurant owner, capitalizing off the beauty of the Mayan’s sacred lake, may earn a handsome sum of $8 to $10,000 monthly.

But several blocks away, a group of Mayan day laborers on their way home from the fields to a ram shackled hut, may take in $4 or $5 a day apiece if their lucky.

It should be noted there are a number of relief and health organizations dedicating much time and effort to improve living conditions for the indigenous people at Lake Atitlan.

There is always room for more help and more hands. This is what Save Lake Atitlan Mission is all about — lending extra helping hands in a time of need.

Fresh Water

As the main source of water for the 60,000 indigenous people on the shoreline, official reports have warned the water is undrinkable. This needs to be dealt with immediately.

Our first goal is to help make sure fresh water is found for every family.

Healthy Food and Improved Housing

Gautemala’s malnutrition rate is the highest in Latin America. Statistics also show its malnutrition percentage exceeds the 35 per cent figure found in Africa.

Our second goal is to find more ways to feed the hungry and improve housing conditions.

Improved Health Care

With the advent of tainted wanted due to harmful cyanobacteria, the indigenous population will be the group that suffers most. Stastistics reveal Guatemala’s infant mortality rate is extremely high.

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Lake Atitlan’s Fresh Water May Be As Hard To Find As Gold

Lake Atitlan’s Fresh Water May Be As Hard To Find As Gold

Don’t let poverty and pollution divide people; new radio show and web site wants to galvanize interests at Atitlan

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 26, 2010

There are many people and groups working to solve Lake Atitlan’s pollution and poverty problems.

However, according to reports coming from people at the lake, nobody is really working together.

A rather general statement but it appears to be true otherwise poverty and pollution would be improving, not getting worse.

Looking at other places and people suffering the same as those at Lake Atitlan, it is no different.

Poverty is on the rise and Detroit is a good example.

Pollution is on the rise. Fresh water lakes all around the world wide are good examples.

This pollution, like at Lake Atitlan, is showing itself in the form of deadly cyanobacteria, which if not corrected could leave fresh water as rare to find as gold nuggets in the Mojave Desert.

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Prill: Can It Help Revitalize Toxic Waters At Lake Atitlan

Prill: Can It Help Revitalize Toxic Waters At Lake Atitlan

It may sound ‘woo-woo’ but those who have tried it say it works

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 25, 2010

A company selling a water product called Prill may not have all the answers for the outbreak of cyanobacteria at Lake Atitlan, but what they sell may help revitalize tainted and unhealthy lake water still being pumped into homes, hotels and other businesses.

“Yes, we have had a number of successes with Twilight Prills and providing remedies for polluted waters,” said Martin Pytela, head of Life Enthusiast Co-op, who sells the granulated product added to water.

“ Prills help restructure water back to natural rather than damaged industrial (toxic) energy pattern. It sounds a bit ‘woo-woo’ to many people, I realize, but it does make a big difference.

Pytela said he’d love to introduce his product to the indigenous people at Lake Atitlan and is going to work with the help organization, Save Lake Atitlan Mission, to get this accomplished.

He added that once someone tries Prill, “he’ll never us bottled water again because it eliminates chlorine and removes toxins.”

What is Prill?

According to Pytela, Prill Water is super-hydrating, and is a far superior moisturizer to common water. He said it will enhance your nutrient absorption and toxin elimination, and this will improve your health.

“It has increased oxidation reduction potential, lower surface tension, and higher pH than the water you treat, to help reduce the damage from free radicals in your body. Prill Water has alkalizing potential to raise your body’s pH,” added Pytela.

“Lasting many years, these small beads create water that is wonderfully moisturizing, and is absorbed immediately so that every cell (be it human, animal or plant) is properly hydrated. This is the key to healing, and the maintenance of health.

Regarding the situation at Lake Atitlan, he went on:

“We have had a number of reports that indeed this works even on large scale. I have no idea just how much we would have to use on a lake this size. We would have to create some initial project to sponsor a small area, a single bay, and start working it.

“Our company is not big or strong enough to afford to do this for free … We could seed it, and sponsor a drive but we would like to collaborate with people on the ground in Guatemala.”

Here are some testimonies about the effectiveness of Prill found on Pytela’s web site at: Continue reading

Blue Water And Eco-Tek Ready To Help Lake Atitlan’s Cyanobacteria, Raw Sewage Problem

Blue Water And Eco-Tek Ready To Help Lake Atitlan’s Cyanobacteria, Raw Sewage Problem

Officials holding money know about the two companies, but will serious talks start leading to solutions

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 24, 2010

Effective cyanobacteria monitoring and water treatment facilities are needed immediately at Lake Atitlan to correct future toxic algae outbreaks like just occurred in 2009.

Despite all the talking, raw sewage is still be dumped daily into Lake Atitlan from more than 60,000 people living on the shoreline in 12 villages and towns surrounding the 30,000 acre volcanic crater-shaped lake.

Reports from other lakes around the world verify algae clean-up, estimated to cost millions at Lake Atitlan, is not good enough since if the root causes aren’t dealt with, the toxic algae only returns, especially during hot summer months.

The recent algae outbreak, covering 85 per cent of the lake with a thick green scum, sent shock waves through the community, bringing a $30 million dollar tourism industry to a halt and creating a nightmare for the indigenous population whose main water source remains undrinkable.

Government reports claim 15 water treatment plants are needed to solve the problem at a whopping cost of $350 million since there is not one plant operational today.

And seven months after the outbreak, despite all the promises and finger pointing, not one plant has been built although the government Monday held a ceremony on the UN’s World Day of Water, saying construction for the first plant will soon begin.

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Lake Atitlan: The Goose Ain’t Laying Golden Eggs Anymore

Lake Atitlan: The Goose Ain’t Laying Golden Eggs Anymore

Atitlan tourism plummets; will business and government cure goose or only fix $30 million dollar tourist hen house?

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 23, 2010

Lake Atitlan has been called “Guatemala’s goose that laid the golden egg” for its tourist boom that brings in more than $30 million a year.

But now the goose is sick.

The golden eggs are few and far between.

But instead of healing the goose, self-absorbed and greedy business owners, who never gave much back to the goose anyway, are scrambling to entice foreigners to come back Lake Atitlan.

They are offering hotel deals like two nights for the price of one and other slick advertising gimmicks like Las Vegas hotel owners trying to rig the slot machines while giving away cheap rooms and meals.

Lake Atitlan also is soon to be included in a $12 million dollar tourist campaign by the Gautemalen Institute for Tourism. Although we are not privy to their advertising slogans, we are sure they won’t be mentioning cyanobacteria has left the lake unsafe for swimming let alone drink the water.

All these business interests seem to be scrambling to save the “$30 million dollar hen house” but not wanting to save the goose, a goose dying a slow death from years of neglect, over pollution, raw sewage and garbage dumping and toxic fertilizer agricultural run-off.

“It would seem more prudent and wise to first spend a big chunk of the $12 million dollar advertising money first on effective monitoring of cyanobacteria,” said the head of an awareness and charitable organization called Save Lake Atitlan Mission set up to help the indigenous people on the lake shore, who are suffering the most.

“There is not one effective waste water management plant on the lake where more than 60, 000 people live and tens of thousands of tourists come every year to put their pretty little footsies in the supposed “crystal clear” water, words which I am sure will be included in the upcoming advertising campaign.

“Well, the water isn’t so crystal clear anymore and where do you think all the raw sewage is going? Why not use some of the $12 million in advertising money to build environmentally friendly waste water management facilities. Why? Because it is easier to make up stories that the lake is safe and crystal clear while robbing Peter to pay Paul. Take the fast tourist buck and run.

“Atitlan doesn’t even have an effective cyanobacteria monitoring put into place and we surely are not going to be listen to a few hotel owners doing their own haphazard studies, telling us the lake is safe when we recently talked with several people who just left Atitlan in February diagnosed with amoebic dysentery.”

Instead of spending millions on advertising, use some of the money for effective monitoring and waste water plants.

Two companies ready to go to work, but have never been contacted are Blue Water Satellite and Eco-Tek.

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Lake Izabal Region And Lake Atitlan’s Water Becoming Toxic, Undrinkable

Lake Izabal Region And Lake Atitlan’s Water Becoming Toxic, Undrinkable

Foreign mining interests and over pollution threaten very existence of Mayan culture and their fresh water reservoirs

By Greg Szymanski, JD
March 22, 2010

While the Mayans are struggling to preserve the quality of their drinking water at Lake Atitlan, other parts of Guatemala are experiencing the same assault on fresh water reserves.

In the Lake Izabal region, local fisherman and farmers have petitioned the Canadian government to control nickel mining operations, threatening the purity of the fresh water supply.

Concerned citizens from America and Canada have joined forces with the Mayans at Lake Izabal to petition both governments in Guatemala and Canada to clean-up mining operations before toxic chemicals make water in the area undrinkable.

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