Water Journal : Water Journal February 2015
FEBRUARY 2015 water 39 workshop report A delegation of six from Shanghai (including the Deputy General Manager, Deputy Manager of Construction and Operation, Deputy Manager of Sewage from the Shanghai National Engineering Research Center of Urban Water Resources and Engineer from Shanghai Municipal Sewage) took part in the NCW this year. Mr Lu Ning, Deputy Manager R&D, gave a presentation on the problems and challenges that cyanobacteria pose in Qingcaosha Reservoir in Shanghai. Four students gave presentations, and it was reassuring to see the generally high level of collaboration and engagement between representatives from utilities, universities, local and state government agencies. Some “take-home” messages from the presentations were: • The understanding of toxin production, existence of unknown toxins and unequivocal species identification is far from complete; • On-line/in situ/rapid/remote methods for measuring cyanobacteria and metabolites are still high on the priority agenda of regulators and the water industry; • More “environmentally friendly” and effective processes for controlling cyanobacteria in source water and in the treatment plant are required to minimise costs and risk to the environment; • Cyanobacteria are fascinating and complex organisms and there is still much for us to learn. Plenty of time for discussion was built into the Program, and on day three groups got together to look more closely at four broad interest areas – genetics, modelling, management of cyanobacteria in drinking and wastewater treatment, and management and ecology of source water. Outputs from these groups are available from the Cyanobacteria Workshop pages on the WaterRA website, along with many of the presentations given on the day. WHY THIS RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT TO AUSTRALIAN UTILITIES During one of the many spin-off discussions, the issue of the recent Microcystin detection in Toledo Ohio WTP was raised as an example of less than optimal management of a BGA incident. We’d like to think that such a response would not occur here, given the amount of expertise and engagement within industry, but you just never know. A number of speakers at the workshop gave examples of unusual or extraordinary circumstances surrounding blooms in Australia and further afield. I guess the lesson here is that we should not be complacent, particularly since it has now been shown that: 1) climate change is likely to result in changes in occurrence and detection of species; and 2) there is at least one unknown cyanobacteria toxin in Australia that has not been characterised. As a side note, the workshop was held in the Sprigg Room in the Mawson Building on the University of Adelaide Campus. For those who may not know, Reg Sprigg was a geologist and conservationist, and is probably best known for discovering Pre-Cambrian fossils at Ediacara Hills in South Australia, co-founding Santos and establishing the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges. He was a seriously driven man who built his own research vessel and, with a couple of others, carried out what was (and is to this day) the most extensive benthic survey of Gulf St Vincent (these days he’d never get OHS approval – and probably just as well). But he was passionate about the environment, and was concerned about threats of climate change in the 50s. In one of his many letters to Sir Mark Oliphant, Reg wrote: “I see by an article in the latest journal that the CO2 greenhouse effect is not appearing so rapid – not until 2030 do they expect serious melting of the ice caps. Surely now is the time to take more drastic action before it’s too late. We seem determined to mortgage the future, making it easier for us right now – enjoy now, pay later.” Prescient words! FIFTH NATIONAL CYANOBACTERIA WORKSHOP Michele Burford from Griffith University and Philip Orr – who recently retired from Seqwater and is now an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith and Monash Universities – have volunteered to host the next NCW in Queensland in 2016. While it is early days yet, planning has already begun and over the next few weeks and months they will begin putting in place the framework for the next meeting including deciding on dates and venue. This is not an easy task given important international meetings that will take place that year including the 10th International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria in China. Tentative dates have been penciled in for the week of the mid-semester break from 26–30 September 2016. Actual dates will be advised as soon as they are finalised. One of the loud and clear messages from the Cyanobacteria Workshop is that we need to frame all research in a multi-faceted way – not just “research because it is useful and important”, but because it is vital to the water industry to stay ahead of the challenges we are already facing – from changes in species distribution, seasonality and severity, to more complex chemical, climatic and other operating environments. THE AUTHORS Angela Gackle (email: Angela.Gackle@ waterra.com.au) is Manager, Marketing and Communications with Water Research Australia Limited (WaterRA) in South Australia. Dr Gayle Newcombe (email: Gayle. Newcombe@sawater.com.au) is Manager, Customer Value and Water Quality Research at SA Water.. Dr Lee Bowling (email: email@example.com. gov.au) is Principal Limnologist/State Algal Coordinator, Office of Water, NSW Department of Primary Industries. Philip Orr (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith and Monash Universities. The fourth NCW was held in the Sprigg Room at the University of Adelaide.
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