Case Study: Algae in Waterways & Irrigation Channels

There are more than 17,000 kilometres of earthen irrigation channels in Australia, all with varying amounts of plant life and weed growth on the banks and in the waterway. Decayed vegetation from nearby trees and decayed foliage from the channel banks, as well as the runoff from adjacent farms, provides plenty of aquatic nutrients. When combined with abundant sunlight and high summer temperatures, blooms of algae are a frequent occurrence.

How to Control Algae in Farm Dams and Ornamental Ponds

Farm dams and ornamental ponds very often develop algal problems. The problems can range from physical inconvenience such as blocking of screens and filters, pumps and irrigation equipment to stock losses from toxicity caused by accumulation of blue green algae. The problems are aggravated where water is enriched by nutrient run-off, so heavily fertilised areas are a particularly good source of algal nutrients.

In drought seasons where water levels are low, algae may also be a major problem.

The management of large volumes of water in reservoirs, dams and water impoundments is a perennial problem for water managers. Frequently these water impoundments are subject to run-off of fertilisers and other nutrients from agricultural land, or from storm water and other sources. These excess nutrients combined with relatively high water temperatures experienced in Australia (during the Summer months) are the perfect breeding ground for algae. Algal blooms are frequently experienced and often degrade stored water in reservoirs, dams and other water impoundments. 

Some species of algae (such as cyanobacteria) release toxins. All blooms decrease dissolved oxygen in the water, which in turn affects fish within the impoundment. The visual amenity frequently declines and there is often an offensive smell associated with the blooms. Constant monitoring is essential and treating the algae before it turns into a major bloom is essential. 

An algaecide, such as Coptrol, offers an effective approach to the prevention and control of free-floating and filamentous algae.

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