Peruvian scientist Marino Morikawa, who "revived" polluted wetlands in 15 days using nanotechnology, now plans to try to clean up Lake Titicaca and the Huacachina lagoon, an oasis in the middle of the desert.
El Cascajo, an ecosystem of roughly 50 hectares (123 acres) in Chancay district, located north of Lima, began its recovery in 2010 with two inventions that Morikawa came up with using his own resources and money.
The idea of restoring the wetlands came from a call from Morikawa's father, who told the scientist that El Cascajo, where they used to go fishing when Marino was a child, "was in very bad condition," Morikawa told EFE.
Marino Morikawa, who earned a degree in environmental science from Japan's Tsukuba University, visited the wetlands and found a dump for sewage ringed by an illegal landfill where migratory birds fed.
The stinky swamp was covered by aquatic plants, Morikawa said.
Morikawa set out to find a way to decontaminate the wetlands without using chemicals, and his first invention was a micro nanobubbling system, which consists of bubbles 10,000 times smaller than those in a soda beverage and remain in the water between four and eight hours.
The bubbles trap and paralyze viruses and bacteria, destroying them and causing them to evaporate, Morikawa said.
The environmental scientist also designed biological filters with clay to retain inorganic pollutants, such as heavy metals and minerals, that adhere to surfaces and are decomposed by bacteria.
In just 15 days, the effort led to a revival of the wetlands, a process that in the laboratory had taken six months.
"Nature does its job. All I do is give it a boost to speed up the process," Morikawa said.
By 2013, about 60 percent of the wetlands was populated by migratory birds, especially Franklin gulls that used El Cascajo as a stopover on their route from Canada to Patagonia.
Since then, Morikawa, who has helped in the recovery of 30 habitats around the world, has set his sights on two ecosystems that are emblematic in Peru.
One, scheduled for 2018, is the recovery of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, located 4,000 meters (13,115 feet) above sea level between Peru and Bolivia, and is polluted by sewage.
The second project aims to restore the Huacachina lagoon near the southern city of Ica, where water stopped seeping in naturally in the 1980s.
By Carolina Cusirramos.