New Water Research Foundation Study Addresses Most Effective Methods for Removing Toxic Algae from Drinking Water

Posted in: US Water News, Water Contamination, Water Technology
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Article courtesy of Business Wire | February 17, 2015 | Business Wire | Shared as educational material

DENVER–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Water Research Foundation (WRF), a leading sponsor of research supporting the water community, has released findings of a study addressing effective removal methods for cyanobacteria and other toxic algae from drinking water. The prevalence of drinking water source contamination by cyanobacterial blooms continues to increase, aided by changing climate, continued urbanization and increased nutrient loading of source waters. This latest project by WRF, Optimizing Conventional Treatment for Removal of Cyanobacteria and Toxins (#4315), provides guidance to water utilities on the optimization of conventional treatment for the removal of cyanobacteria and metabolites while meeting other water quality goals.

“This important research will help utilities better manage contamination issues from toxic algal blooms and ensure that their communities continue to receive safe drinking water”

The release of this report comes on the heels of a February 12 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee advancing a bill that would direct EPA to develop a plan to assess and manage risks associated with cyanotoxins in public drinking water systems. Anticipating needs that may arise as utilities are faced with more questions around this issue, Project #4315 supplies water quality managers and water treatment plant operators with knowledge and tools required to confidently apply conventional water treatment processes in the event of source water contamination with cyanobacteria.

The experimental work undertaken by the Australian Water Quality Centre, a business unit of the South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water), and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC), helped identify key best practices when addressing cyanotoxin cases. These best practices include:

  • Understanding at what point chlorination does/does not have beneficial effects on coagulation
  • What oxidant alternatives can be used in the treatment process
  • The effectiveness of specific coagulants on cell and natural organic material removal
  • What role turbidity can play in the treatment process
  • The removal rate of specific toxin strains, such as C. raciborskii

“This important research will help utilities better manage contamination issues from toxic algal blooms and ensure that their communities continue to receive safe drinking water,” said Rob Renner, Executive Director of WRF. “For nearly 50 years, the Water Research Foundation has been firmly committed to not only providing solutions to current water community challenges, but continuing to identify and explore what the community might face over the next 50 years and beyond. Our long and influential history with studying cyanotoxins is a prime example of this commitment in action.”

In addition to project #4315, WRF is partnering with the American Water Works Association to develop two cyanotoxin utility action guides to be released later this year. The guides will be designed for use by water utility management and staff to help water systems recognize if cyanotoxins may be an issue for their utility and what initial steps they should take to address the matter.

WRF has studied cyanobacteria and toxins since the early 1990s and has numerous related resources available on the topic, including a webcast conducted in 2014 that previews the information in the cyanotoxin utility action guides.

For more information about the Water Research Foundation and wide variety of water issues, please visit

About the Water Research Foundation

The Water Research Foundation is an internationally recognized leader in sponsoring research that supports the water community in holistically and cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental, and economic needs. WRF’s research provides reliable and relevant solutions to the most critical challenges facing the water community today and into the future. Founded in 1966, WRF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects valued at $500 million, and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to



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