Algae can be found in most fresh water environments. When conditions are favourable, algae populations can rapidly multiply, resulting in what is known as an ‘algal bloom’. The results of a bloom can often be seen in the water, with a green or brown slimy scum appearing on the surface.
Some species of algae produce toxins which can affect both animals and humans. In extreme cases the toxins can cause some blistering of the skin, eye irritation, and if swallowed can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, with the potential to cause kidney and liver damage.
It is imperative that we do all we can to isolate the areas experiencing toxic algal blooms, to prevent animal and human contact with the toxins, and to prevent the toxins from finding their way into our drinking water supplies. Current testing methods involve random testing, often done weekly or even fortnightly. When conditions are right, this does not give sufficient warning of an algal bloom.
To compliment current testing methods, there are two instruments available to assist in the management of algae in our waterways. One is the bbe FluoroProbe, a submersible spectrofluorometer for in-situ algae profiling, and the other the bbe Algae Online Analyser, an online instrument which continuously measures algae in the water, with the ability to trigger alarms when predetermined concentrations are exceeded.
It is possible to set up the FluoroProbe with a GPS system, and additional sensors for measuring salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. By placing the FluoroProbe in a flow-through device, the operator is able to profile large areas of water in a short space of time, giving algae concentrations and class differentiation, along with the other parameters. The FluoroProbe can also be used to carry out in-situ depth profiles, all in real-time.
The Algae Online Analyser is able to measure algae concentrations with class differentiation, with an option available to measure Genty Parameter (Activity Measurement). This function gives the operator an understanding of where the measured algae are in their life cycle, and determine if the cells are alive or dying. Alarm levels can be set to give early warning of rising concentrations, and all data can be displayed in an inbuilt PC, transferred to an external PC, and/or fed into an existing SCADA system via serial, LAN, or analogue outputs.
The bbe range of algae and toxicity monitoring instruments are supported in Australia by Technical & Scientific Equipment