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FAQ- Beneficial Microbial Treatments

1. Why are bacteria ideally suited for water treatment?
Bacteria are nature's recyclers. They have the ability to degrade an astonishing number of compounds making them suitability for a large variety of natural and manmade systems. Once the environmental and nutritional requirements of different species of bacteria are quantified, their abilities to completely clean and re-stabilize a system can be harnessed. Certain challenge and selection techniques can be employed to further enhance their appetites for certain difficult to degrade compounds.

2. Exactly how do bacteria degrade waste?
Bacteria produce enzymes that allow them to break up complex compounds into pieces that can enter the cell to be used for growth and reproduction. Some bacteria use the carbohydrates and proteins usually found in the suspended solids that elevate biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), while others employ compounds most organisms cannot, such as sulfide, ammonia and hydrocarbons. When added to water, the bacteria attach themselves to solid particles, whether floating in the water or settled on the bottom, and secrete enzymes which decompose the particles. Certain dissolved compounds, such as ammonia and sulfide, are absorbed directly into the cell. Combinations of species often provide a more powerful and complete degradation of specific pollutants than individual strains applied alone, because the by-products of one species often serve as another species' food. Only a correctly balanced formula of bacterial strains, can use this synergistic effect to completely break down pollutants to non-toxic by-products such as carbon dioxide, water and sulfate.

3. What happens to the bacteria when the job is done?
Bacteria replicate at an enormously fast rate when they are well fed, about once every 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the species. The bacteria will replicate as long as the pollutants in the system can feed the population. As the pollution level decreases, the bacteria die off and reproduce less often. In this way, the population naturally tailors itself to the pollution level. By the time the job is done, the bacteria have died back to a normal population. Some will go into dormancy, and reactivate if the nutrient level begins to rise again.

4. Is our bacteria genetically engineered?
No. The bacteria that we use are formulas that are natural occuring, selected for desirable properties and challenge adapted. They are not genetically altered in any way.

5. Is the bacteria in our products safe?
 Our products are Biosafety Class 1, non-pathogenic (are not a cause of disease) to humans, animals and plants. These products are certified salmonella and shigella-free and they causes no short or long-term detrimental ecological effects. In fact, by reducing total suspended solids (TSS), ammonia salts, hydrogen sulfide, and other contaminants in your lake/pond/reservoir, they contribute better water quality.

6. Are these products safe for fish?
YES! Supplemental microbial applications improve the aquatic environment for fish and other wildlife by removing ammonia and sludge from the water column. 

7. If these bacteria are already present in nature, why do they have to be added to a natural system?
The bacteria in nature are kept in check by organisms in the food chain that eat them and are not always suited to the kind of wastes in which they find themselves. The natural bacteria may not be efficient at breaking down the nutrients and compounds in the aquatic system and the byproducts may produce undesirable results and odors.. By flooding the system with a carefully selected and enhanced combination of organisms, the added bacteria have an enormous competitive advantage, and are free and able to handle the wastes at a given site.

8. If the special bacteria in these formulations reproduce in the field, why isn't one dose sufficient?
Fresh from the pail, each strain of our bacteria has been specially adapted to prefer specific difficult-to-degrade compounds. After adapting the strains to a specific purpose, our technologist blends the strains in a particular formula to suit the intended task. Without our formulator's artificial selection process, each succeeding generation (after the first 10) reverts more and more toward the "wild", again, preferring simpler carbon sources found in water column. In other words, after "breeding" in a waste stream with a low concentration of the target substance, for 10 or more generations, the descendants of our product become more and more indistinguishable from the wild population.

9. Can supplemental microbial treatments control weeds?
Since aquatic weeds do not feed from the water column, instead absorbing their nutrients directly from the sludge layer, they are not as immediately affected. Bacteria can be used to break down most of the sludge layer over a few months with the added benefit of eventually reducing water weeds.

10. What kind of pollutants do these products target?
Virtually all organic contaminants except PCBs can be degraded with these bacteria. These include but are not limited to: sludge, manure, grease, oil, chlorides, ammonia, nitrite, sulfide, some pesticides, hydrocarbons, cyanide and phenols.

11. How do bacteria clarify the water?
Microbial treatments reduce the Total Suspended Solids (TSS) that cloud the water column by digesting the floating organic matter.

12. How does bacteria deal with phosphorus in the water body?
Bacteria can absorb some phosphorus (as PO4) in their cell mass, using it as a nutrient catalyst in the production of enzymes and proteins. The bacteria also use phosphorus in cell reproduction, making it unavailable as a food source for algae and aquatic plants.

13. How does bacteria control odor?
By accelerating the natural nitrogen cycle, these microbes enhances the rate at which ammonia is converted into nitrite and then into nitrate, eliminating the release of ammonia gas. A number these products also contain special strains selected for their ability to biodegrade hydrogen sulfide, eliminating these odors as well.

14. Where can bacteria be used?
Microbial products have been used for lakes and ponds, industrial wastewater, aquaculture, landfill leachate, greenhouse irrigation water, agricultural waste, groundwater pollution and restaurant waste. Since many pollutants are ubiquitous, applications are numerous and ever expanding.

15. How does the use of chemical algaecides and herbicides alone cause long-term problems?
By killing off all algae and many beneficial bacteria, chemical algaecides put additional nutrients (degrading algae and weeds) back into a water column. Dead Algae and plant material is not degraded by the now depleted supply of beneficial bacteria, causing an increasingly out-of-balance ecosystem. When the chemicals are depleted the available nutrients in the system from the dead algae and weeds supports regrowth of aquatic plants and algae until the situation becomes worse than it was originally. The dead algae, and plant matter sink to the bottom, contributing to the sludge layer, which emits hydrogen sulfide and methane gases as it rots. In extreme conditions without beneficial bacteria to alter this cycle, the pond changes from aerobic to anaerobic respiration, killing the fish and other aquatic life. The pond now becomes a breeding ground for disease and parasites. Re-establishing a balanced system, with aeration and beneficial bacteria, promotes a long-term healthy environment.