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Ecuador launches floating islands to save lots of stinky Guayaquil estuary

When the night falls and the tide goes out, the smell around Guayaquil's estuary can be nauseating
Once the night falls and the tide is out, the smell around Guayaquil’s estuary could be nauseating.

On the banks of the dark and murky waters of the Guayaquil estuary, volunteers trudge through mud because they slide wooden platforms.

Onboard are necessary seedlings which could save the 70-kilometer (44 mile)-long polluted artery outside Ecuador’s main port city.

Environmental engineer Angela Cevallos is leading efforts to save lots of the estuary with one of these “floating islands,” which are embedded with red mangrove seedlings.

The plant is well known because of its long roots that may absorb pollutants while helping establish an aquatic ecosystem, allowing other plants and animals to thrive.

“These islands will be the transportation mode and the propagules (seedlings) do the task,” said Cevallos, who leads the project run by Holy Spirit University, her alma mater.

For many years, a great deal of rubbish, excrement and heavy metals have already been dumped in to the water around Guayaquilhome to 2.8 million people.

But despite several previous conservation efforts and huge amount of money of investment, the estuary is still threatened by pollution.

“Guayaquil is continuing to grow at your toes of the estuary and we can not allow it die,” said architect Patricio Rosero, who designed the biodegradable wooden platforms.

Volunteers carry the two-meter long platforms on the backs one at a time to the water’s edge.

Ten platforms are tied together using rope created from banana skins.

Wearing a long-sleeve shirt and white boots, Cevallos, 23, wades in to the green mud to slowly push the platforms into place.

Each “island” is filled with 23 red mangrove seedlings, which within four months should form thin trunks.

“The mangrove is really a noble habitat, it could be regenerated and absorb pollutants,” said Cevallos.

“I’ll get back to test the water to see when there is less pollution.”

1,000 times the authorized contamination

Half of a century ago, fishermen would catch snook and corvina in the estuary, while children would frolic in its natural pools.

Half a century ago, the estuary was frequented by fisherman and children who swam in its crystalline waters
Half of a century ago, the estuary was frequented by fisherman and children who swam in its crystalline waters.

“My dad took my three siblings and myself to Puerto Liza and there he taught us to swim. The water was superior and fresh,” reminisced 75-year-old Lucenia Haro, a retired school teacher.

But large scale building began, sparked by politicians wanting to win new voters.

Entire neighborhoods were built at breakneck speed, but with out a connected sewage system.

Right now, the pipes that transport sewage empty straight into the estuary, where 300,000 people live across the coast, many in extreme poverty.

Between May 2019 and July 2022, almost 35,000 a great deal of rubbish were collected from the estuary, in accordance with figures from the Guayaquil mayoral office.

The biggest way to obtain pollution is sewage.

“Secret connections have already been closed and redirected to the sewage system,” said Maria Fernanda Rumbea, head of the neighborhood environment body.

In accordance with Cevallos’s analysis, in your community where in fact the floating islands have already been placed, there’s 1,000 times the authorized level of coliform bacteria, which lives in feces and may contaminate water.

Conservation efforts

It isn’t the 1st time such platforms have already been sent in to the estuary.

In 2014, the surroundings ministry installed some metal platforms however they failed because of insufficient maintenance.

Earlier this season, the bigger Polytechnic School of the Coast launched an initiative to reforest the estuary with .

“You want to know if the algae can enhance the mangroves’ germination rate,” said Edwin Jimenez, a researcher at the university.

The Guayaquil municipality is implementing its conservation project aswell, you start with the construction of its sewage treatment plant, in accordance with Rumbea.

Once the night falls and the tide is out, the smell is nauseating.

Yet the estuary and its own vegetation continue steadily to resist the contamination. It remains the only real drainage system for , thus preventing potentially catastrophic flooding through the country’s .

“If it wasn’t for the estuary and its own smelly trees, a large number of homes and buildings could have disappeared time ago,” said Jimenez.

2022 AFP

Citation: Ecuador launches floating islands to save lots of stinky Guayaquil estuary (2022, September 17) retrieved 17 September 2022 from

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