Syracuse Department of Water Mitigates Algae with Ultrasonic Technology


Water Supplier’s Investment in Sound Wave Resonance Replaces Decades of Applying Copper Sulfate in an Open Drinking Water Reservoir


The Syracuse Water Department (SWD) is responsible for managing an unfiltered drinking water supply for the City of Syracuse. The source water is Skaneateles Lake, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, approximately 20 miles southwest of the City.




SWD Open Water Reservoir fed by Lake Skaneateles


The SWD’s water distribution system includes one open water reservoir that has a capacity of approximately 120 million gallons. Open water reservoirs are challenging to manage during the summer and fall months due to elevated water temperatures and abundant sunlight which can stimulate uncontrolled algae growth.

Historically, the city would apply copper sulfate to the reservoir during elevated algae counts or spikes. Treatment effectiveness varied considerably depending on environmental conditions, count of algae species targeted, and how uniformly the product was dispersed.

Because algae levels rise significantly during warmer months, the SWD had treated the reservoir with between 6,000 and 15,000 pounds of copper sulfate per year to manage algae counts. However, prior to 2018, once the copper sulfate was depleted favorable conditions for algae growth would return. Algae counts would frequently return to pre-treatment levels within several days of applying copper sulfate, and the process would continue until water temperatures decreased significantly in late fall.




Looking for alternatives to copper sulfate, a new approach to algae control employing ultrasonic devices was tested. The units emit sound waves with various frequencies that interfere with buoyancy regulation. In 2022 the city deployed the latest innovative ultrasonic unit, a Pulsar 4000 unit by WaterIQ TechnologiesTM. This unit emits over 2000 ultrasonic frequencies from 4 separate transducers to suppress algae and has been very effective in controlling blue-green algae counts.

Weather conditions throughout the summer and fall of 2022 were extremely warm resulting in Skaneateles Lake temperatures reaching 80° F. Even with the favorable conditions for algae growth in the reservoir, a copper sulfate treatment was not necessary.

The transition from copper sulfate to ultrasonic devices has resulted in consistently improved water quality, without the reliance on a short-term, cost prohibitive algaecide.

A key advantage of ultrasonic technology is it is an active system that works 24/7 reducing or eliminating the resources necessary to apply algaecides. Copper sulfate on the other hand requires planning and prep work to actually perform an application. Crews need to schedule treatments around sunlight to effectively treat lakes and reservoirs.

Compared to ultrasonic systems that suppress algae growth, the SWD has found that although copper sulfate works immediately to knock down algae counts, several days after treatment, the target algae “rebounds” to levels similar, or higher, than the original algae counts. The transition from copper sulfate to ultrasonic devices has resulted in consistently improved water quality, without the reliance on a short-term, cost prohibitive algaecide.



WaterIQ Technologies’ Pulsar 4000 has demonstrated to be effective in controlling blue-green algae in the SWD’s open water reservoir in 2022 on algae without resorting to chemicals and proven effective in controlling blue-green algae. The Pulsar family represents the industry’s next-generation ultrasonic algae defense system designed for performance and field reliability.



WaterIQ Technologies Pulsar 4000™

The Pulsar 4000 is a 360° ultrasonic appliance designed to address larger bodies of water up to 120 acres per unit. The units generate more than 2,000 sound wave frequencies providing a very effective approach to treating most algae.

Deployment of advanced ultrasonic systems and coupled with diffused aeration by Syracuse Water Department has been a resounding success, resulting in enhanced water quality and significant financial savings.



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