Friday, August 05, 2005

Little critters may solve MTBE contamination problem

Technology may come to save the day with the leakage of gasoline-additive MTBE into the State's water supply.

To clean up a massive plume of MTBE in Los Angeles' drinking water supply, scientists have produced trillions of tiny "bugs" that feed on the toxic gasoline additive and leave the water pure enough to return to the aquifer.

The project is the first of its kind in Los Angeles, and officials rave that the superefficient microbes will restore millions of gallons of precious San Fernando Valley groundwater, which provides 10 percent of the city's drinking supply.

"This is exciting because we're saving the water, and water is precious in the region," said Yue Rong, a senior environmental scientist with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Scientists expect MTBE-gobbling bacteria will become a cheaper, safer way to clean up groundwater contamination.

I have to wonder, though, how toxic MTBE can be if these little critters thrive on it.