The bio-aug­men­ta­tion so­lu­tion

Element - - Environment -

There are a lot of trees be­ing planted in the name of clean­ing up New Zealand’s lakes and streams. There are also chem­i­cals like alu­minium sul­phate or alum be­ing dumped into lakes to make them look clear, even if the by-prod­uct is a toxic sludge on the bot­tom.

A Wai­heke woman be­lieves coun­cils and com­mu­ni­ties could do bet­ter by look­ing at what wa­ter­ways do any­way to clean them­selves up.

Clau­dine Kit­son says bio-aug­men­ta­tion is widely used over­seas, yet seems largely un­known in New Zealand.

She says the ad­di­tion of bac­te­rial ad­di­tives to ac­cel­er­ate nu­tri­ent re­moval is one of the key ap­proaches rec­om­mended by the North Amer­i­can Lake Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I see in­stead a lot of work in var­i­ous re­gions around re­duc­ing nu­tri­ent lev­els off farms through ri­par­ian plant­ing and fenc­ing off buf­fer zones be­tween stand-off grounds and streams.

“There is also a lot of money be­ing spent try­ing to sort out sep­tic tanks, but it will take decades and it’s really hard to man­age.”

That time lag is an is­sue with many forms of dif­fuse pol­lu­tion, the ef­fects of which can take decades to show up.

We don’t have the time, she says, with coun­cils hav­ing to im­ple­ment the Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment for Fresh­wa­ter Man­age­ment by 2025.

Her com­pany Un­blok (un­ has taken an agency for Eco-Fix, which is a con­trolled release of mi­cro-or­gan­isms) to break down con­tam­i­nants.

She says it en­hances the ex­ist­ing mi­cro­bial com­mu­nity in the wa­ter­way, which makes the treat­ment method or­ganic, safe and eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able as well as be­ing in tune with Maori cul­tural val­ues on wa­ter man­age­ment.

“It has been proven to work really well over­seas and there are decades of re­sults. “The other thing is it is really low cost,” Kit­son says. She says a draft bud­get for treat­ing the la­goon at Lit­tle Oneroa on Wai­heke would be $2000 for an ini­tial shock with main­te­nance of about $4000 a year to re­fresh monthly or af­ter heavy rain.

Bio-aug­men­ta­tion can even be used in sewage sys­tems.

The small Span­ish town of Vil­lalba de los Bar­ros, in­jects bac­te­ria into its sewer pipes to start the treat­ment process be­fore the waste hits its treat­ment plant.

It has halved the sludge nor­mally pro­duced by the treat­ment plant and made the whole sys­tem bet­ter able to cope with the sea­sonal in­crease in ac­tiv­ity dur­ing the peak pro­cess­ing sea­son for grapes and olives, which pro­duc­ing a five­fold in­crease in waste­water.

“[Bio aug­men­ta­tion] has been proven to work really well over­seas and there are decades of re­sults”

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