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US and Dutch water sector join forces against harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie, USA

Posted on 13 May 2015

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Dutch-based Water Alliance and Akron Global Water Alliance announced a joint monitoring project on harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie, USA. Dutch companies and knowledge institutes involved, are BlueLeg Monitor, Deltares, Arcadis and the University of Amsterdam.

Akron Water Supply intends to start before the summer to find out how monitoring and combatting toxic algae can be done.

The meeting followed the US Algal Toxin conference that took place in Akron, Ohio from 28-30 April. The conference highlighted the increase of toxine algae bloom events in rivers sand lakes, and the subsequent problems for water supply companies that use these waters as their source.

Both the conference and business meeting had been organised by the Dutch Water Alliance and Akron Global Water Alliance to explore the business opportunities for specialized companies in both countries.

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 Still, warm and nutrient-rich water in the Western part of Lake Erie caused an intense algae bloom event early August 2014. This satelite photo shows a similar event in 2011.

Great concern after Toledo drinking water stop
The conference made clear that the issue of toxin algae bloom is high on the agenda of US water supply companies.

Especially since August last year when the city of Toledo had to stop its water supply for two days as the water at the intake in Lake Erie contained too high levels of microcystin, a toxin produced by fresh water cyanobacteria.

The city of Akron is located some 200 km east of Toledo and Akron Water Supply also takes in its water from Lake Erie. Fortunately for Akron Water Supply it was not hit by last year's algae bloom.

Nevertheless the company wants to be better prepared and is looking for an effective monitoring and early warning system.

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Director Hein Molenkamp of Water Alliance explained how his organisation develops business cases by bringing together SME companies and owners of real problems.

First business meeting in US
Akron Water Supply participates in the Akron Global Water Alliance that facilitates knowledge institutes and businesses to develop innovative solutions for water treatment issues.

As Water Alliance is doing the same in the Netherlands, both alliances decided to joint their efforts on the monitoring of algae in fresh water.

For Water Alliance it was the first time to co-organise a meeting to explore a possible business case abroad.

No consensus on ultimate solution
The US Algal Toxin Conference made clear there are plenty of solutions or semi-solutions offered by the market, but there is no consensus on one ultimate solution. Much is still unclear, there is an urgent need for more data, but it is clear that the problem does not go away by itself.

"Toxic algae are a serious threat, even in the lakes where we draw our water," said manager Jeff Bronowski of Akron Water Supply. "We are really impressed by the knowledge and the methods offered by the Dutch. We do a lot of monitoring ourselves, but we want to see how it could be done better and more efficiently. We have highly qualified people within our organisation and it takes them a lot of time to gather samples."

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 Hein Molenkamp (left), Hans Wouters (middle) and Jeff Bronowski in the controle room of Akron Water Supply.

Serious look at Dutch technology
Bronoski showed specific interest in the BlueLeg Monitor equipment. "It would make it easier to monitor a bloom event, so our people can spend more time actually analysing data. We also want to investigate the methodology of scientist Hans Matthijs of the University of Amsterdam in cooperation with Arcadis who offers to fight algae with low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. Within Arcadis we already have good contacts. Possibly the Dutch solutions in combination can help us together to make progress."

BlueLeg Monitor director Hans Wouters was pleased with the recognition. "The people of Akron have asked us to put a plan on paper. We're going to do that in the coming weeks."

Water Alliance managing director Hein Molenkamp: "Altogether we can reflect, like our Dutch partner companies, on a very successful business session in America. It's nice to be so busy with a concrete need and help mediate and leave them wanting more."

About Water Alliance
Dutch-based Water Alliance is a partnership of public and private companies, government agencies and knowledge institutes involved in water technology in the Netherlands. It focuses on innovative and sustainable water technology and brings together a complete chain of innovation for water technology, from first idea to research & development, specialised laboratories, a water application centre, various demosites and launching customers to international applications with commercial companies. 

Water Alliance is based at WaterCampus Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

About Akron Global Water Alliance
Akron Global Water Alliance (AGWA) initiates, implements and commercializes the top water systems and technologies from across the US and the world by forming and developing mutually beneficial partnerships on a local, national and international level.

Using it global network, AGWA develops pilot projects that connect state-of-the-art technology with proven business experience and local expertise, as well as valuable financial incentives.


More information
Water Alliance
Leeuwarden, the Netherlands
+31 58 284 9044
www.wateralliance.nl/en

Akron Global Water Alliance
Akron, USA
+1 330 375 2088
www.akronglobalwateralliance.com

ABC-news report on the second day of the drinking water ban in Toledo on 4 August 2014.

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