The sewage pipeline is the only solution for the rescue of Lake Atitlan. It is still possible to return the lake to its natural condition.
AMSCLAE, the authority responsible for the protection of lake Atitlan presented in 2015 an initiative to develop a Master Plan for drinking water supply and wastewater treatment. This plan includes technology options, institutional framework and community consultations for the introduction of drinking water supply, sewerage and sewage export outside the Basin. Wastewater treatment plants installed in some municipalities are only part of the solution, treatment plants alone fail to remove pathogens and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that feed the cyanobacteria.
The Master Plan includes the design of a sewage collector proposed in 2012 by sanitary engineers of Chico University, California and by the College of Engineers of University of San Carlos, Guatemala, as the only solution to rescue Atitlan. This technology restored lake Bolsena and Garda in Italy, lake Tahoe and lake Washington in the United States and lake Constance in Germany.
This collector is the only economically and environmentally feasible system to preserve Lake Atitlan.
Friends of Atitlan accompanied the development of the terms of reference that will guide the Master Plan. The terms of reference reflect three key arguments:
- The importance of the lake as a drinking water source for the inhabitants of the basin and as a strategic water reservoir for the country.
- Go beyond compliance with current regulations regarding the quality of waste water discharges which are extremely harmful for the lake's health.
- Ban the entrance of nutrients and pathogens into the lake.
Since the start of the Master Plan development, Friends of Lake Atitlan allowed for dialogue and has spread information of the plan at a national level. The association has gained support at all levels to stop wastewater from entering the lake. Additionally Friends of Lake Atitlan has promoted the comprehensive drainage system as the only feasible economic and environmental solution to preserve and restore Lake Atitlan.