Increasing Harmful Algal Blooms Highlight Importance of Water Treatment and Conservation

Increasing Harmful Algal Blooms Highlight Importance of Water Treatment and Conservation

With recent water contamination incidents affecting hundreds of thousands of people, and millions relying on water sources that are at risk from pollution and scarcity, water treatment and conservation become critical components of sustainability.

To foster understanding and education about one of its primary areas concerning sustainability, Team Gemini has highlighted a variety of water-related issues, and will continue to do so. Large-scale outbreaks of Harmful Algal Blooms (HBAs) have drawn attention to the impacts that outdated industry and pollution treatment practices can have on communities.

2015 brought a summer of green water, with many areas of the nation seeing a record year for the growth of harmful algal blooms in rivers and lakes – including a 700-mile long bloom on the Ohio River and the largest bloom ever in Lake Erie. These HABs contain toxins that pose serious risks to our health and drinking water quality. EPA estimates that between 30 and 48 million people use drinking water from lakes and reservoirs that may be vulnerable to contamination by algal toxins. In 2014, the City of Toledo had to curtail drinking water use for three days as a result in Lake Erie, which supplies the city’s drinking water.

Some species of HABs produce toxic compounds, called algal toxins or cyanotoxins, which can pose health risks to humans and animals. These blooms and their toxins are more than a nuisance – they also have the ability to cause fish kills and contaminate drinking water supplies. Their presence can disrupt recreational activities and harm the liver, kidney, and nervous system.

Since communities and industries depend on water for their basic livelihood, the associated costs of maintaining this finite resource will become increasingly apparent. And so will the negative impacts of avoiding solutions that create both economic and environmental benefits. This is especially true when considering the following:

HABs are a national problem that is growing in frequency and duration across the country. Excess nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) pollution is a leading factor contributing to HAB formation in water bodies. These excess nutrients can originate from urban, agricultural, and industrial sources as well as from atmospheric deposition.

The cost of these events is significant and impacts our ability to work, our health, and our environment.  In 2015 alone, we had numerous closures of fisheries and beaches as well as increased costs for treating drinking water for the millions of people that rely on Lake Erie and the Ohio River for their drinking water.

Team Gemini—with partners like A3-USA, Inc., Professional Energy Services, and others—provides innovative, modular treatment technologies that are among the most efficient on the market, and help resolve issues related to HABs. From Membrane Bioreactors to Ultrafiltration and Reverse Osmosis systems, these components are able to retain suspended matter, bacteria, and viruses (pathogens), and can even remove carbon, phosphorous, nitrogen, certain toxins, and bio-accumulative micro-contaminants. Featuring smaller footprints and lower maintenance requirements than traditional [municipal] wastewater treatment plants, Team Gemini and its team members offer ways to tackle HABs effectively. And with technologies for bio refineries, a comprehensive set of options is available to support new environmental protection measures while at the same time increasing resources for existing communities and industries.

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For the original article about HABs, you can check out this link.