NYSDEC uses new technology to study harmful algal blooms on Lake Agawam

The New York State Department of Environmental Protection (DEC), in partnership with the village of Southampton, announced a new research project to evaluate the potential effectiveness of ultrasound technology in reducing harmful algal blooms (HABs) on Lake Agawam in the village of Southampton. This research is part of the HAB Action Plan developed by DEC for Lake Agawam in 2020. The technology will be deployed later in April 2021.

HABs are a growing environmental problem affecting all parts of the world. Excessive nutrient pollution in bodies of water, especially phosphorus and nitrogen, promotes the growth and spread of harmful algal blooms. In addition to unpleasant tastes and smells, excessive HABs can seriously damage people, pets, and aquatic organisms and affect water quality. In addition, they can disrupt water treatment processes by clogging filters and pipes.

State experts work closely with the Lake Agawam Community and in partnership with Stony Brook University. Together they are to examine the effectiveness of ultrasound devices at Lake Agawam in the summer of 2021. If successful, this technology will be used for other bodies of water that are contaminated with HABs. In addition to ultrasound, the lake is treated with common products.

As the summer season is about to begin, it offers the optimal conditions to evaluate the use of ultrasound treatment to improve the lake’s water quality over the long term. HABs are more likely to occur and become a problem as temperatures rise. Three ultrasonic devices are deployed on floating, solar-powered buoys that combine continuous water quality monitoring, web-based software and ultrasonic technology to effectively control HABs in real time.

The technology emits ultrasonic waves that create a sound layer in the topmost water layer and influence the buoyancy of algae cells. These cells sink into the deeper layers of the water column, where the algae no longer have sunlight and naturally die.

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