5 January 2024

Experimental trials to rid Lake Albert of blue-green algae have begun

| Jarryd Rowley
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Blue-green algae at Lake Albert.

A trial at Lake Albert is being conducted in the hope of clearing up blue-green algae over summer. Photo: Chris Roe.

Wagga Wagga City Council (WWCC) has begun preparing Lake Albert for a new enzyme-based blue-green algae (BGA) treatment trial.

The trial, being conducted by Waterzyme, will introduce an organic enzyme into the lake in the hope it will starve the algae of sunlight, ultimately causing the breakdown of its cells.

Preparations for the trial began in the new year, with WWCC working quickly to remove solar pontoons from the lake this week. The enzyme will be planted shortly after with hopes of an almost immediate effect.

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The enzyme has never been used in a body of water as big as Lake Albert, however, according to Wagga Wagga City Council General Manager Peter Thompson an agreement between WWCC and Waterzyme made just before Christmas looks to be a win-win situation.

“The product is still in development,” Mr Thompson said.

“For the lake, it is an opportunity to look at an alternate method of preventing BGA, while for the company providing the enzyme (Waterzyme), it is an opportunity to further advance the product by trialling it in a larger body of water.”

Solar platforms.

Solar platforms are being removed from the lake before the official trial begins later this month. Photo: Chris Roe.

The trial of the enzyme comes at an ideal time for Wagga Wagga City Council as councillors are due to decide on whether it will budget for the treatment in February.

“The trial gives us a 12-month head start on seeing what it is capable of and whether council believe it is worth investing in,” Mr Thompson said.

“Currently, the cost of the trial comes from the sale of carbon credits that we have generated at the landfill, meaning there is no money being taken from other sectors.

“By conducting the trial, it also means not missing a summer to the trial when we know there is algae there right now.”

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Should WWCC see positive results from the trial and decide to incorporate the treatment into the 2024/25 budget, the costs will be incorporated with those of the Lake Albert pipeline project.

The pipeline project will look to supply Lake Albert with 1800 megalitres of water annually from the Murrumbidgee River. The total cost for both projects will be around $1 million annually.

Mr Thompson said the trial would provide council with the best possible information before its February ordinary council meeting, when a decision on the budget would be made.

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