Algae and biofilm in water are more than just a smelly scourge. They can be a harbinger of much larger concerns that can be unsightly, and, at worst, affect animals, humans, and property.
Often referred to as pond scum or seaweed, algae is neither, but that doesn’t make it less of a problem.
When open water is involved, you’ll likely encounter this unsightly and costly maintenance nuisance. It’s ever-present in our water systems, as well as ponds, lakes, treatment facilities, swimming pools, industrial tanks, cooling towers and lagoons.
More than just a smelly scourge, the presence of algae can be the harbinger of much larger concerns. These include:
Algae, on its own, can be a rather vexing issue. But it often is accompanied with the growth of biofilm, that slimy growth of bacteria that tends to cling to solid surfaces present in water.
Added concerns from biofilm growth in water include:
Algae is a hungry organism that likes to feast on phosphates and nitrates — two common pollutants that can commonly be found in detergents, fertilizers and many consumables, including carbonated beverages. These pollutants don’t simply arrive out of thin air. They are a result of effluent from sewage and septic systems, runoff from over fertilized lawns, leaf and grass clippings blown into ponds and lakes, and even agricultural farming using non-contour plowing methods.
The most concerning HABs occur during peak summer months, when the heating of the day provides enough of a catalyst to warm ponds and lakes top to bottom, activating anaerobic bacteria in the muck layers. These bacteria undergo a metamorphosis, causing a significant amount of phosphates stored in the muck to be released as the organic content is consumed.
Blue-green algae have a particular affinity for warm weather — they are genetically suited to thrive in the heat of summer by using gas vesicles to regulate their buoyancy control. This allows them to sink down to the lower water levels and dine on the plentiful phosphates being released from the muck.
A common treatment of algae in water is the use of chemicals. While chemicals can be effective in the removal of algae, they can be expensive and create harmful risks, both for people and water ecosystems.. Copper sulfate, the most common chemical used to treat algae, has been flagged a class 1 highly toxic chemical by the EPA. One of the negative effects of chemicals such as copper sulfate is the creation of a sterile bottom that kills essential nutrients, as well as good bacteria depended upon by fish and other forms of aquatic life.The use of chemicals can also lead to corrosion of steel, iron, and galvanized pipes.
Of course, just leaving the algae in the water is a non-starter: When left unchecked, algal blooms can wreak havoc. Algae’s presence in wastewater treatment facilities, notably lagoons, can lead to a systemic starvation of needed oxygen supplies.
Combined with warmer temperatures and nutrients such as nitrogen, the reduction of dissolved oxygen in the water can stress local aquatic life and can lead to even more rampant algal growth and HABs, producing cyanotoxins.
The risks from proliferating algal blooms include:
One of the problems facing municipalities faced with algae problems, real or not, is public sentiment. The electorate has become very vocal about water quality, and rightfully so. Officials are extremely sensitive to their community’s perception of local water quality. Off odors and taste can trigger quick responses from the public demanding to know if their water is safe. Of course, many of the chemicals used in algae treatment have a similar stigma in the public consciousness.
Ultrasonic technology from WaterIQ Technologies leverages science and sustainability to put an end to out-of-control algae and biofilm growth. This technology is, helping return water ecosystems to their natural state using a sonic alternative to harmful chemicals. . Ultrasound waves disrupt algae cells, causing them to lose buoyancy, sink and die—all without harming other aquatic life. The waves also inhibit biofilm from attaching to surfaces and growing. You do not need to use dangerous chemicals to deal with these problems—WaterIQ Technologies products can help you control algae and biofilm safely, efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way.
Read this quick ultrasound technology overview so you’ll understand just how ultrasound technology works to control algae and biofilm problems, and what features to look for to treat your application.
Algae and biofilm problems don’t go away by themselves. Let WaterIQ Technologies can help you find the best solution to your water purity challenges. Take a look at our case studies and other information in our Resources section, and feel free to contact us at any time for answers to your questions.