New clay to be used in Peel-Harvey catchment to fight algae


Dr Tulipani takes water samples at Punrak Drain.
Dr Tulipani takes water samples at Punrak Drain.

A NEWLY created phosphorous-binding clay designed to fight algal blooms in regional waterways is being trialled in a large agricultural drain in the Peel-Harvey catchment.

Nearly a quarter tonne of the clay will be used during the trial to treat around 3200 kilolitres of phosphorous-rich water, the equivalent of about 80 backyard swimming pools.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, as part of the Regional Estuaries initiative, will closely monitor changes in phosphorous levels, before during and after the treatment.

If successful, the clay may prove a cost-effective measure to reduce phosphorous loads and help prevent algal blooms in rivers and estuaries.

Punrak Drain in Keralup has been chosen for the trial because it carries one of the Peel-Harvey catchment’s more concentrated phosphorus loads and drains in the lower Serpentine River.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation environmental officer Svenja Tulipani said nutrients was one of the main causes of algal blooms in rivers and estuaries.

“Laboratory tests and a small trial in the lower Vasse River using the clay product have shown promising results but large scale use in a fast flowing phosphorous-rich agricultural drain has never been tried,’’ Dr Tulipani said.

The trial carries on the tradition of the State Government’s innovation in tackling algal blooms with State agencies and CSIRO developing the nutrient binding clay product Phoslock which is now a commercial product used world wide to reduce algal blooms.

The new clay is considered a next generation product that provides a potentially lower cost and more versatile application than its predecessors.

“Water treatment techniques like this provide options to support the health of rivers and estuaries while longer-term nutrient reduction activities in the catchment are being worked on,’’ Dr Tulipani said.

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