• Project No 1066
  • Project Name On-line monitoring of Cyanobacteria to predict coagulant doses and powdered activated carbon application in water treatment
  • Lead Organisation Water Research Australia
  • Research Lead UNSW Sydney
  • Main Researcher Rita Henderson
  • Completion Year 2018

Project Description

Water treatment plant operators remove cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce from source waters but calculating the amount of treatment needed for effective removal is difficult, particularly in bloom conditions when cyanobacterial cell numbers and toxins change quickly. Current cell counting and toxin measurement can take hours or days to complete, and the results are not available quickly enough to help treatment plant operators respond to changing conditions. There is a need for a real-time method that gives instant results. This research examined the utility of fluorometers; probes that emit light that is ‘reflected’ back at different wavelengths by living cells and other matter in the water and is detected by the fluorometer. It was found that when only one species of cyanobacteria was present, there was a good correlation between the fluorescent signal and cell number, particularly when source waters were clear and not cloudy. Cell numbers did not relate well to levels of toxins or taste and odour compounds. When fluorometers were installed in 13 water treatment plants the correlation between cyanobacteria cell numbers and fluorometer signals was validated, and this led to the conclusion that fluorometers can give early warning of blue-green algae blooms.