Harmful and nuisance algal blooms – measuring the cost for Australian water

Analysing the economic impact of HNABs on the Australian water industryCongratulations to WRC’s Dr Bojan Tamburic and his colleagues on the publication of a new report that analyses the economic impact of algal blooms on the Australian Water Industry.

Changes to climate patterns and land use have increased the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms in Australia.

Understanding the full impact of algal blooms on recreational water use, source water management, water treatment (for drinking, stock, agricultural and recycled water), and finished water quality, enables industry to better evaluate and target research into bloom mitigation and management.

Dr Tamburic’s report for Water Research Australia (WaterRA) is the first effort in two decades to estimate the economic impact of harmful and nuisance algal blooms (HNABs) on the Australian water industry.

Using data from past blooms that have impacted water supplies, the research team surveyed industry practitioners to understand their response to those blooms. They found that algae-related problems account for 21-40% of water quality concerns at Australian water utilities.  

Algae-related problems distract water operators from other business needs, and can result in 8-15 hours of overtime work per bloom. Not only that, water utilities incur significant expenses for chemical dosing, carting water, and capital upgrades in order to treat blooms.

The research was successful in identifying and categorising the present-day costs associated with the management of harmful and nuisance algal blooms in Australia. However, there is insufficient information to extrapolate a national estimate for the ‘cost of algae’ for the whole country.

Bojan's team have passed on their research findings to CSIRO who will be working on obtaining a national $ cost estimate as part of their exciting new AquaWatch Australia program.

Congratulations to the UNSW research team Drs Bojan Tamburic, Naras RaoTess Stafford and Professor Greg Leslie – and industry partners – Melbourne WaterWaterNSWHunter WaterGWMWaterGoulburn Valley WaterVictorian Department of Health and Water Research Australia.

Full Report at  https://www.waterra.com.au/project/analysing-the-economic-impact-of-harmful-and-nuisance-algal-blooms/  Note that Report can only be accessed by employees of WaterRA member organisations

  • LEAD ORGANISATION:  Melbourne Water
  • MAIN RESEARCHER:  Dr Bojan Tamburic

About Bojan Tamburic: 

Dr Bojan Tamburic Dr Bojan Tamburic is a Lecturer at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW Sydney and Research Manager of the Nuisance and Harmful Algae Science-Practice Partnership with Melbourne Water. His main research interests are the management of ‘bad algae’ in our waterbodies and the use of ‘good algae’ to produce biofuels and other bioproducts.

Bojan has a multidisciplinary scientific/engineering background with a BSc in Physics, an MSc in Sustainable Energy and a PhD in Biochemical Engineering, all from Imperial College London.

Previously, he was Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Deputy Leader of the Algal Biosystems Team at the University of Technology Sydney. 

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