Micro solution to mega issue?

Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest

 

Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest told the district council last week a company called Ergozyme NZ might have the answer to Lake Ngaroto’s toxic pollution – but who are they? Benjamin Wilson finds out.

Ergozyme NZ is a Te Awamutu based company launched last November.

The company’s three directors are Wium Mostert and Anél Mostert, who are married and live in Te Awamutu, and Carlo Mostert, who is Wium’s brother and lives in South Africa.

Wium Mostert. Photo: Benjamin Wilson

They import a product range that is designed to clean water using biotechnology. Micromix is produced by the South African company Ergofito.

Wium and Anél moved to New Zealand from South Africa 10 years ago.  Wium worked as a PPG Wrightson livestock agent for eight years. Carlo, who has a background in commercial cleaning, introduced Wium to Micromix after he made contact with Ergofito’s managing director, Alvaro Tangocci.

Wium says Micromix is the culmination of 35 years of research. The research investigated how water bodies are cleaned naturally over time. He says Micromix emulates this and cleans waterbodies with a biotechnology that uses organic carbon and a bacteria-enzymatic mix.

“They researched how water is naturally cleaned and put that in a bottle,” he said.

“We destroyed that biology in water bodies over time, it is so little it cannot regenerate to do the work. We come in and put that back into the water, and that enables it to clean itself.”

Studies of the product have been conducted in numerous places, including Utah and Kuwait, Wium said. He says treated water from Kuwait was put into a live fish tank to demonstrate that the product was safe for local biology.

Wium says that Lake Ngaroto could be a good application for Ergozyme’s products because the body of water is stable, so the product would remain active for a long period.

“In wastewater plants, you only have a 16-to-18-hour window. With a lake it’s so much better because you’ve got time,” he said.

Ergozyme has only received small batch orders so far, which have been used by farmers for agricultural purposes. In mid-March, Wium is expecting to receive his first large batch of product.

Wium says that Ergozyme’s products have been approved for use by the Ministry of Primary Industries. But before it can be used on council properties, like Lake Ngaroto, it must be approved by the regional council as well as local iwi. Wium understands there will be many questions around the use of Ergozyme’s products.

“New Zealand is quite strict and there is a rigorous process in getting these products registered,” he said.

Wium says one of New Zealand’s biggest problems is water, and called the state of our waterbodies “scary.”

“Where do we go with effluent water? We spray it over the paddocks,” he said.

He believes that water needs to be dealt with more precisely, and that there are many aspects that need to be looked at such as oxygen levels, nitrogen levels, and levels of phosphorous.

“You can’t put anything into nature if you don’t know what you’re working with. You need to know, what’s in there, what’s the problem, and what we need to fix.”

He said he is awaiting testing and approval for the use of his product in Lake Ngaroto and hopes it can be of benefit to other water bodies.

“I’ve looked at New Zealand, everybody knows there are problems, my goal is to help people fix these problems.”

Read: Ngaroto plan floated

Read: Lakes on the brink

Read: Ngaroto: Like an effluent pond

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