- Project No 1110
- Project Name Benthic Cyanobacteria: An aesthetic and toxic risk to be evaluated
- Lead Organisation SA Water
- Research Lead University of Adelaide
- Main Researcher Justin Brookes, Virginie Gaget
- Completion Year 2020
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which float in reservoirs have been studied for decades because when they bloom, the very high cell numbers cause a problem for water treatment plant (WTP) operators, who have to remove the cells, toxins, and taste and odour compounds they produce. Benthic, bottom-living cyanobacteria which also produce toxins were recently discovered in Australian reservoirs. The problem is that benthic cyanobacteria are not included in routine monitoring practices and very little is known about them. This research provided information about the incidence of benthic cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce in various catchments; identified environmental conditions that stimulate bloom formation, and investigated naturally occurring biodegradation of taste and odour compounds. It was concluded that there is a need to monitor benthic cyanobacterial mats to ascertain the risk they pose, and to obtain additional in-situ data about more benthic species, because this will support the construction of predictive models to facilitate improved management of catchment and source waters.