Leading Dutch Consortium Combats Algae in US


Knowing that Dutch water technology companies can offer solutions for algae threats, ‘The US Algal Toxin Conference ” has been organized in Akron, Ohio from 28 to 30 April by the Akron Global Water Alliance (Ohio) in collaboration with Water Alliance (NL)

Subsequently the Water Alliance organized the “Water Square” on 1st May this year in Akron (USA); a closed meeting, where technology and knowledge were brought together to tackle a concrete problem. The result: the case-owner – the company Akron Water Supply – wants the Dutch companies BlueLeg Monitor, Deltares, Arcadis to start before the summer to see how monitoring and combatting toxic algae can be done.

The problem of Blue-green algae existed long ago, but it is a remarkable event in the summer of 2014 that the problem really came onto the agenda of city governments and water companies. On August 1, 2014 the American city of Toledo (Ohio) on the shore of Lake Erie was affected by extreme algae growth.

The water authorities saw control charts for the algae spread so alarmingly that they could do nothing else than directly advise the population not to use tap water. For example, a conglomerate with about 500,000 inhabitants was shut down for several days and that became big national news. For the Americans it was clear from this point onwards: the problem of Blue-green algae (known as cyanobacteria) was crying out for a solution.


The algae threat is felt everywhere in the US, but with even greater emphasis in the states bordering the Great Lakes, between the US and Canada. Many of the two hundred visitors to ‘the US Algal Toxin Conference’ also came from this area. After two days of intensive knowledge exchange it could be concluded that 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 a crying need for more data, but it is clear that the problem does not go away by itself. Or, as Mike Baker, Chief Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in his presentation at the conference summarized: “Cyanobacteria are still in the water of Ohio and they form an explicit risk.”

Water Square

A risk perhaps but there are also solutions. Therefore, the Water Alliance organized following the convention in Akron (Ohio) for the first time on American soil one of its “Water Squares”. Business Development Manager Alex Berhitu: “Water Square is an already proven concept of the Water Alliance in the Netherlands. Based on a concrete problem from one or more parties a select group of scientists and entrepreneurs are invited who are expected to help in seeking out a solution. The parties will exchange, in the space of several hours, thoughts and try to forge a cooperation plan. ”

The result of the “Water Square USA ‘is that the company Akron Water Supply – wants the Dutch companies BlueLeg Monitor, Deltares, Arcadis to start before the summer, to see how monitoring and combatting toxic algae can be done. “Toxic algae are a serious threat, even in the lakes where we draw our water,” said manager Jeff Bronowski. “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. BlueLeg Monitor’s equipment for example, would be easier to monitor and faster, so our people can spend more time actually analysing data. We want to look seriously at 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. ”

Source: Water Alliance

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