Saturday, May 29, 2010

SAVING WILD PLACES Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala

Wildlife Discovery

©WCS Guatemala

The Maya Biosphere Reserve is a rainforest stronghold for jaguars, pumas, scarlet macaws, and howler monkeys. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, millions of migratory birds also take shelter here. The reserve is situated at the heart of the Selva Maya, a forested area that spans neighboring portions of Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. It serves as a critical watershed for the surrounding communities and as a major carbon sink for the entire planet. As the epicenter of Maya civilization from 350 B.C. to 150 A.D., the forest’s 200 archeological sites draw tourists from around the world, bringing much needed revenue.

Fast Facts

* The Maya Biosphere Reserve includes three national parks: Tikal, Laguna del Tigre, and Mirador-Río Azul.
* Covering 8,100 square miles, the reserve protects the largest block of broadleaf forest north of the Amazon Basin.


Guatemala is recovering from years of internal conflict, and the government has not strongly regulated the use of its natural resources. The reserve provides the country with 90 percent of its petroleum and timber. Roads built to facilitate timber and petroleum extraction allow access to the interior, and bring illegal human settlements, unsustainable land use policies, rampant hunting of wildlife, and annual burning of trees.

WCS Responds

WCS partners with local communities and governments to find innovative approaches to integrate development projects with the protection of natural and cultural resources, particularly sustainable forest management. We are also studying jaguars as part of a broader WCS effort to document and monitor the species’ populations across Mesoamerica. And we are fighting to save the Maya scarlet macaw population from extirpation caused by the pet trade. Our efforts to conserve scarlet macaws include nest protection, artificial nest construction, veterinary monitoring, and education initiatives.


©2010 Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460, 718-220-5100.

Wildlife Conservation Society - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), and is based at the Bronx Zoo. ...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Guatemala makes landmark civil war conviction

Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:56pm EDT

By Sarah Grainger

CHIMALTENANGO Guatemala, Aug 31 (Reuters) - A former military commissioner became the first person to be convicted of the forced disappearance of people in Guatemala's 36-year civil war on Monday, and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

A panel of three judges found former military commissioner Felipe Cusanero guilty of the disappearances of six peasant farmers between 1982 and 1984 in a landmark case that overcame Guatemala's notorious bureaucracy and impunity.

Almost a quarter of a million people, mainly poor Mayans, were killed during the 1960-1996 conflict between leftist guerrillas and the government. Around 45,000 of them are thought to have been forcibly made to disappear.

Over 80 percent of the atrocities were committed by the army, according to a United Nations-backed truth commission.

The tiny courtroom in Chimaltenango, a provincial capital about 25 miles (40 km) west of Guatemala City near where Cusanero ordered the disappearances, was packed with Mayan villagers and families of the disappeared as the judges read out their verdict.

"We weren't looking for vengeance, but for the truth and for justice," said Hilarion Lopez, whose son Encarnacion was taken by soldiers in March 1984 when he was just 24 years old and who was never seen again by his family.

Cusanero, now in his mid-60s, was the commissioner in charge of around 40 soldiers in the region in the early 1980s.

Guatemalan rights groups believe he was responsible for the deaths or disappearances of more people, but only the families of six victims came forward to testify against him.

Legal experts say it is the first time anyone has been convicted for forced civil war disappearances in Guatemala.

"This judicial precedent opens the door for the families of the tens of thousands of victims to take their cases to court," said Mario Minera, executive director of the human rights organization CALDH, which has spent four years fighting for disappearance cases.

Few people have ever been tried for the crimes and human rights violations that took place during Guatemala's conflict and the army has refused to allow access to its archives.

Former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt continues to serve as a lawmaker in Guatemala's Congress even as he faces accusations of genocide committed during the civil war.

But the country has started a healing process, exhuming war graves to search for the dead.

Molding police archives were discovered in a warehouse in the Guatemala City four years ago and could provide evidence in hundreds of cases of disappeared people.

Maria Tan, whose husband was made to disappear by Cusanero, said the verdict was a significant step for the country. "My grandchildren are growing up and it's important that they never experience what we went through," she told Reuters. (Writing by Robin Emmott, editing by Anthony Boadle)



This is why I - and many others - keep working in Guatemala. Many young men who worked for me in the U.S. told me how, when they were young, they had seen their fathers forcibly dragged from their homes. They never saw them again.

I could harldy believe it; it was so sad hearing this tale. Now, I am a witness and can help do something about it. War is a crime, no matter where it occurs.

The Guatemalan Civil War ended after 36 years in 1996. Not very long ago. How do we prevent this from hapening again, on any soil?

A quarter of a million people dead and the average age in Guatemala is under 20 years of age.

Guatemala - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Guatemalan Civil War ended in 1996 with a peace accord between the ... The current average age in Guatemala is 19.4 years old, 18.9 for males and 20 .... making the indigenous community in Guatemala about 40% of the population. ...

Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

ECO-TEK Solar Aquatics System on YouTube

ECO-TEK Solar Aquatics Systems:

Solar Aquatics Systems provide an opportunity to recover resources and reduce our water pollution thereby reducing our collective ecological footprint.
A Solar Aquatics System is designed to duplicated the natural purifying process of fresh water streams, meadows and wetlands. Using greenhouses and solariums to enhance the growth of algae, plants, bacteria and aquatic animals, sewage flows through a series of tanks, engineered streams, and constructed marshes where contaminants are metabolized or bound up.
Water is reusable for irrigation and flushing toilets.

See YouTube videos about ECO-TEK:

1. Solar Aquatics featured on Healthy Homes

patrickemeyer — April 01, 2009 — ECO-TEK Ecological Technologies was featured on Healthy Homes with their Solar Aquatics System they build in Errington, British Columbia, Canada. In 2009 they build a much larger cold weather system in Cynthia, Alberta.
Category: Science & Technology
ECO-TEK solar aquatics wastewater waste water sewage recycle reuse water sustainability

2. CBC News report on the Solar Aquatics system build in Bear River NS (1990)

Solar Aquatics system build in Bear River Nova Scotia back in 1990 was wildly successful servicing not only the town's sewage processing needs but attracting thousands of interested tourists.

3. Solar Aquatics systems build by Ecological Engineering Associates

Ecological Engineering Associates build a series of Solar Aquatic facilities in the United States through the 1990s. ECO-TEK, working in cooperation, has further developed and adapted the technology to the Canadian climate.

Sewer Treatment Plant in Pana?

Lake Atitlan - sewer treatment plant in Pana?

Catherine S. Todd Sun, May 2, 2010 at 2:04 PM
To: EKO-TEC Canada ,
EKO-TEC Canada
Solar Aquatics System (SAS)
Kim Rink, President
Patrick Meyer, Chief Operations Officer
office phone: 778-298-6835, office fax: 778-298-6836

I thought I'd contact you directly with the questions I've sent to Sid Eischenbach regarding solutions for the cyanobacteria polluting Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, where I live part time. Your Solar Aquatics System (SAS) system looks phenomenal, and surely must be "the wave of the future." Let me know if you are involved and what I can do to help.

Sincerely, Catherine Todd (contact and links below)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Catherine S. Todd
Date: Sun, May 2, 2010 at 10:05 AM
Subject: Sewer treatment plant in Pana?
To: sid eschenbach
Cc: Carlos Funk , Roger Stringham , George Nippo

Dear Sid,

I'm would like to help build sewer treatment plants for Lake Atitlan. People said last time I was there recently that "someone had already started on a sewer treatment plant for Pana, and had already poured the foundation." If this is true, I figured it had to be you. I don't know if money is still needed for this project, but I assume it is.

I'm considering ways of doing fundraising to build treatment plants for all 12 villages around the lake, using the same successful techniques I'm using to raise money for schools & families around the lake. I don't ask for donations, but develop businesses that provide work and income for everyone concerned. So far, so good. These same practices could easily be turned toward building sewer treatment plants for Lake Atitlan.

For installation of sewer treatment plants, I'm looking at Eko-Tek in Canada who uses a Solar Aquatics System (SAS):

"ECO-TEK is an environmental leader in handling wastewater through purely biological means."

"Reusing wastewater as a Resource"

Solar Aquatics downloads, info & tech sheets:

Havana Project Description: Urban sewage collection systems flow by gravity to creeks and streams of the Havana Metropolitan Park. A pilot “aquaculture” waste treatment facility is being designed and built to reclaim this wastewater for reuse as irrigation water for organic urban agriculture and to grow flowers for export to Canada.

Do you know, or is there a better one? I've attached their information pdf. From what I've read, they plant orchards and gardens through their chemical-free, odorless system in the middle of towns, using unskilled labor with an installation cost of as little as $150,000.00 and $2,000.00 per year or less for simple maintenance. I've attached a pdf for their project in Havana:

It sounds very do-able for all the villages around Lake Atitlan, using unskilled labor with low-cost installation and maintenance. Some day all sewer systems may be like this.

The problem of toxic cyano-bacteria in Lake Atitlan is getting a lot of media attention, but is there an actual group or agency that is doing something as yet? Any updates to articles I've found so far?

31 Oct 2009:

5 March 2010: Atitlan Community: Why Lakes are Like Black Holes (and what we can do about it) - Sidney Eschenbach
7 April 2010: Lake Atitlan Guatemala Health-Green Cyanobacteria Algae ...
The Guatemala Times has just released an excellent in depth article explaining what is going on with the cyanobacteria in Lake Atitlan. ...

Group report & updates by : (some pages not found, dates?)

It may be that the problem is already in hand and a solution has been found, and further contributions will not be necessary. If this is true, please let me know. I hope so! If not, I am happy to help.

I'll be back at the end of May through the month of June. Hope everything is going well, and say "hi" to Jan for me.

Yours, Catherine Todd

Catherine Todd
3007 Bent Tree Dr. Oxford NC 27565
H 919.693.0853 U.S. cell 919.605.0727

Guatemalan Arts & Crafts (GAC)
Panajachel, Lake Atitlan
Guatemala cell (dial 011 from the U.S.):
(502) 5013.6300

For 2010:

"The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need do is set our sails."
~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ~ Gospel of Ramakrishna

Peace and justice are goals for man.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

John 16:33. "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world"

2 attachments
Solar Aquatics System (SAS).jpg

Saturday, May 1, 2010


For installation of sewer treatment plants, I'm looking at Eko-Tek in Canada who uses a Solar Aquatics System (SAS). Eco-Tek creates chemical-free odorless systems, using orchards and gardens, which can be built for as little as $150,000.00. We need to try this at Lake Atitlan!

EKO-TEC, Western Canada's builder of Solar Aquatics Systems (SAS):

Reusing Wastewater as a Resource

ECO-TEK is an environmental leader in handling wastewater through purely biological means.

While most wastewater treatment facilities treat with chemicals and dispose of treated waste into our natural environment ECO-TEK builds fully biological systems. We use no chemicals and produce useful products at the end of our process. We can build ZERO-impact waste water treatment facilities.

Solar Aquatics downloads, info & tech sheets:

Havana Project Description: Urban sewage collection systems flow by gravity to creeks and streams of the Havana Metropolitan Park. A pilot “aquaculture” waste treatment facility is being designed and built to reclaim this wastewater for reuse as irrigation water for organic urban agriculture and to grow flowers for export to Canada.

See Eco-tek's Havana project:

ECO-TEK (Canada)
While most wastewater treatment facilities treat with chemicals and dispose of treated waste into our natural environment ECO-TEK builds fully biological ...

Company Info:

EKO-TEC Canada
Solar Aquatics System (SAS)
Kim Rink, President
Patrick Meyer, Chief Operations Officer
office phone: 778-298-6835, office fax: 778-298-6836
email: "EKO-TEC Canada" ,

Canadian Environmental Solutions (CES)
ECO-TEK Ecological Technologies Inc. - Complete Profile

Legal Name: ECO-TEK Wastewater Treatments Inc.
Operating Name: ECO-TEK Ecological Technologies Inc.

Mailing Address
10 - 20543 - 96th Ave.
LANGLEY, British Columbia
V1M 3W3
Location Address
10 - 20543 - 96th Ave.
LANGLEY, British Columbia
V1M 3W3

Telephone: (778) 298-6835
Fax: (778) 298-6836
Website URL:

Last Updated: 2009-06-05

Company Description

Sales: $1.5 million Exports: $0.50 Employees: 4

ECO-TEK Wastewater Treatments Inc., established in 1993, works in collaboration with Ecological Engineering of Massachusetts and local Canadian engineering firms to provide a full range of wastewater treatment and reuse services. ECO-TEK draws upon the appropriate expertise for each major project that it undertakes.

ECO-TEK works with municipalities, industries, and developers to apply the 3-R's principles: reduce, recycle, reuse. This results in the development of wastewater reduction policies and technology, advanced treatment and local reuse systems. This approach is both comprehensive and sustainable.

ECO-TEK is unique in that it designs its systems to use wastewater as a resource. Wastewater is primarily water, nutrients, chemicals and heat energy. Recycled nutrients and water can be used to grow trees for reforestation and landscaping, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Fish fingerlings to stock our lakes and rivers can thrive in the nutrient rich environment of a Solar Aquatics greenhouse. Purified water can irrigate an expanding organic market garden industry. ECO-TEK has associates to assist in the development of these diversified industries.

ECO-TEK maintains its quality assurance program by maintaining customer support via oversight contracts with municipalities, private developers, and industries. This is accomplished through constant computer network access to each facility and timely visits by ECO-TEK staff to ensure optimal efficiency of operation. Larger facilities include an on-site water testing lab operated by a local certified operator.

ECO-TEK frequently collaborates with client groups to develop unique wastewater treatment solutions, building on both the natural systems and the simple, yet advanced components of the Solar Aquatics System technology. The architecture and complexity of the system can be designed in a wide spectrum of ways, to adapt to the developing world.

ECO-TEK's mission, using Solar Aquatics technology, with its capability to recycle nutrients and remove toxins, is to improve the health of our lakes and river ecosystems, our aquifers, and our people. The Solar Aquatics technology opens opportunities to all rural and urban communities to turn their environmentally hazardous and increasingly expensive wastewater systems into job and income generating enterprises. ECO-TEK assists communities to use nature as a powerful ally.

ECO-TEK is engaged in ongoing research in collaboration with British Columbia universities to develop the technology for enterprises that have complementary uses to the technology, such as tree nurseries, aquaculture farms, market gardens, and greenhouse operations. Processes and systems used in these enterprises include: biosolids composting; biofilter systems; and waste heat recovery systems. Research has also been applied to wetland ecosystem restoration.

ECO-TEK regards its technologies as incubators of biodiversity. They are assets instead of liabilities, creating jobs and using wastewater as a resource for community regeneration.
Country of Ownership: Canada
Exporting: Yes
Primary Industry (NAICS): 541620 - Environmental Consulting Services
Primary Business Activity: Services

Product / Service / Licensing

Product Name: Environmental Products and Services

Product Name: Solar Aquatics Systems (SAS) technology.

ECO-TEK Wastewater Treatments Inc. provides full wastewater and residual biosolids treatment for a wide variety of wastestreams using a patented technology, the Solar Aquatics System (SAS). The SAS is a process that duplicates, under controlled conditions, the natural water purification methods of freshwater wetland ecosystems. Wastewater circulates through aquatic ecosystems inside a state-of-the-art solar greenhouse. The end product, besides plant life and composted biosolids, is high quality water suitable for irrigating parkland and gardens, or to be reintroduced into natural water systems.

Advantages include: Aesthetically Beautiful & Odorless: The lush, plant-filled greenhouse and its well aerated ponds with plant cover, allows the odorless Solar Aquatics facility to be located within urban areas rather than in remote locations. Costs and Earning Potential: The Solar Aquatics System reduces operating cost through low-energy, self-regulating, computer- monitored wetland processes in a solar greenhouse. It offers positive earning potential through aquaculture, greenhouse production, or silviculture. Decentralized Applications: Solar Aquatics is a modular system. Decentralization means smaller collection pipe infrastructure, minimal pumping costs, local reuse of purified water. It also means facilities can be added as and where the community grows. Environmentally Positive Impact: Solar Aquatics is capable of effectively removing toxic materials from a wide variety of wastewaters to produce clean water by slight changes in the process and without using chemicals harmful to the environment. Minimal Sludge Disposal: Conventional sewage treatment must cope with the ongoing problem of the disposal of sludge. Selected plants, biomass harvests, and plant filters such as tree seedlings neutralize toxic materials and produce marketable materials. Rapid/Modular Construction: Solar Aquatic technology components are high quality, lightweight, simple to assemble, and easy to replace or change. Reliability and Process Stability: Due to its vast diversity of organisms, Solar Aquatics handles variable inputs in quality and quantity of sewage, producing water that meets all Canadian drinking water quality standards.

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.