Preserving Lake Atitlan: Pennies for Potties
By Magdalena Battles
In my opinion, one of the most breathtaking places on this planet is Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. I have had thevprivilege of staying in Panajachel (Pana) several times during my trips to Guatemala. Pana is one of the larger communities located on the lake. Going by boat out to Casa del Mundo (I recommend that everyone stay here at some point in their lives, it is a peaceful retreat from the rest of the world) from Pana during my past trip I noticed that the water was looking darker than I had remembered it being previously. As a matter of fact, on my first trip to Guatemala, I stayed at the Lake area for several days and while out on the lake I commented that I could see the bottom of the lake through about 8-10 feet of water. Growing up in northern WI, our lakes were never this crystal clear. It was astonishing to me.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just my imagination that the water was darker. It seems that communities located around the lake have been dumping their sewage into the lake. I am not a scientist, but even I can see this in not a great idea. Several groups have stepped forward to help with this problem. The goal is to have these communities build and use eco-banos.
Eco-banos are dry latrines where waste is turned into compost. In this situation they are used to improve sanitation and eliminate waste water and feces from running or being discharged into Lake
Attitlan. There is a project in Santa Cruz on the Lake where they are promoting dry latrines for the whole community. There was a pledge to fund 10 eco-banos (the pledge was made by Miracles in Action and several Rotary groups) and they are in the testing phase now. The Pennies for Potties was an idea to fund-raise, with people putting their donation into little wooden outhouse potties as a fun idea for raising money. If you want to help preserve the Lake please by contributing to “Pennies for Potties” please go to the donation page on our website: http://www.miraclesinaction.org/donate/contribute/