An increasing number of contaminated waters, as well as the drinking water treatment facilities that the source waters supply, are buckling under the pressures of unsustainable water management practices. These treatment facilities face a critical conundrum, not only that of removing the toxins but to solve the root cause of this problem.

The phenomenon called harmful algal blooms (HABs), occurs when colonies of algae grow out of control. Algae are usually harmless, do however indicate a potential issue in the water ways. periodically appearing along many southern African coastlines. 

The toxic effects of domoic acid poisoning occur in seals eat prey such as fish and shellfish that has been exposed to or has ingested red tide algae – domoic acid builds up rapidly in a seal’s system, causing poisoning and irreversible damage to the animal’s nervous system, inducing swelling to the brain. This poisoning can also affect other mammals and birds thatare a part of the nearby ecosystem. With it, the algae bringsproblems with breathing in humans if too near the affected water, as well as some life-threatening illnesses if you are exposed to it for too long.

Major factors influencing red tide events include:

  • Warm ocean surface temperatures.
  • low salinity.
  • high nutrient content.
  • calm seas; and 
  • Rain followed by sunny days during the summer months.
  • Spread or carried long distances by winds, currents, storms, or ships.

Mitigating Harmful Algae bloom

South African lakes and treatment plants have seen many recent stressors, including high water levels, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, hypoxia, and others.

Determining the cost incentives for drinking water treatment facilities to become participants in water trading or small-scale water source independence need to be given a platform to develop. Since harmful algal blooms have become a significant driver of treatment costs, there is certainly a direct link between algal bloom dynamics to imbalances in sediment and nutrient controls. Needless to say – this is a complex issue that requires a robust system. Drinking water treatment plant operations can be disrupted by overgrowth of HABs and critical focus must be placed on rigid solutions and the facilitation of water-quality trading in mixed use developments, this will be a game changer for industry and the economy.

In addition to technology development and design, MEB also brings strong workforce development to the table. MEB develops advanced infrastructure solutions with formidable experts from around the globe. We can get you and your organisation “tackle ready” to face any challenges head on. An emerging emphasis is on a cyber-ready workforce with skills in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and autonomous marine systems.

We`re here to help municipalities and communities confront this challenge head-on. Why wait when the future is a phone call away.