Combating harmful algal blooms
Published on 19 Jan ‘21
Combatting harmful algal blooms
Combating harmful algal blooms


How our solutions are combatting harmful algal blooms for Water-Link in Duffel, Belgium.

Climate change scientists predict that as the world’s temperatures continue to rise, we will see a number of effects on our freshwater and marine environments. These effects, along with nutrient pollution, has the potential to cause harmful algal blooms to occur more often, in more waterbodies and to be more intense.

These algal blooms can have several severe impacts, including destroying aquatic environments, contaminating surface and groundwater reserves, and disrupting drinking water supplies. They can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as the concentration of nutrients increasing in water bodies during dry periods, or even when there is heavy rainfall, large amounts of sediment can be flushed into water systems.

Both events are becoming increasingly common due to climate change, while the use of synthetic fertilisers in agriculture, increased sewage due to population growth and extensive livestock farming, are all contributing risk factors.

At Ecocoast, we were recently tasked by a client with finding a way to resolve an algal bloom issue they were having, on a reservoir in Belgium. This was for a client called Water-Link, who asked us to help them come up with a solution to prevent the migration of light blue algal blooms towards a raw water intake.

“I had contact with Water-Link two years ago about this problem on a big water reservoir in Duffel, Belgium. Every year, on the water reservoir, they get blue-green algae, and it can be for a few days, or even a few weeks, as it depends on the weather, the temperature, etc,” says Gregory Duquennois, Ecocoast agent in Belgium.

“The problem is that the very small filter units (installed at the raw water intake) couldn’t cope with the large amounts of algae, and because drink water distribution must be maintained at all times, they had to put a lot of effort into keeping the plant running in those periods,” he explains.

Therefore, in order to combat the problem, it was decided that a floating boom be installed on the 7-metre-deep reservoir to help filter out the algae and allow clean water to flow into the intake.

Combatting harmful algal blooms
Design – Triangle form in front of intake

“The idea was to put a triangle form before the water intake to keep out the algae and to pump out the floating algae, which would collect to the shore and in front of the barrier,” he adds.

Ecobarrier Solid Flotation Booms (ESFB-1060) were used on this project, which can be deployed in a variety of water environments, ranging from low to moderate and high currents.

These general-purpose booms can provide years of performance and are made of UV-stabilised PVC membranes with chain ballasts, grab handles and anchor points, making them very easy to install. They are available in different sizes and tensile strengths.

The deployment of the boom was a huge success, Duquennois says, highlighting that the blue-green algae bloom was not a big issue for Water-Link as the barrier has done its job.

If you would like to discuss algae bloom or waterweed solutions, please contact us. We’re here to offer you advice on any marine problem you encounter.

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