Cyanobacteria Monitoring Services

The consortium, led by surface water quality specialist BlueLeg Monitor (BLM) from Sneek, the Netherlands, has executed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) under the Integrated Application Promotion (IAP) program to develop services for the monitoring of blue green algae or cyanobacteria under the project acronym CyMonS: cyanobacteria monitoring services.

For Dutch inland waters, bad water quality due to cyanobacteria blooms are an increasing problem. The cyanobacteria can form thick floating mats, or ‘scum’, leading to a bad smell. Moreover, cyanobacteria can produce toxins, leading to starving fish, ducks, and dogs. Large cyanobacteria blooms influence the ecology of a lake. The smell is of public concern where houses are located close to the water (which happens very regularly in the water-rich Netherlands), while the scum and potential toxins lead to closing of swimming locations and therefore costs for tourist industry in the area.  Because of the costs of continued monitoring, the current situation is that, if a swimming location is closed, it usually remains closed for a long period.

Our services offer water utilities high-frequency monitoring with a spatial overview at low costs, combined with a 1 – 5 day forecast for cyanobacteria scum layers present in surface water bodies. Consequently, decisions can be taken on a daily basis, creating the potential to re-open a swimming location during the season. Multiple hand held field monitors called WISP-3s (Water Insight SPectrometers) are used with other measurements and satellite-based maps to provide data with a high spatial scale. Origins of harmful blooms can thus be better understood.

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The provided monitoring tools in our services (EcoWatch, WISP-3, satellite images) and modeling tools (EWACS) are adding high value in comparison to the current lab analysis and alternative field monitors (fluoroprobe) with respect to spatial coverage and data generating capability.

Finally, the EWACS (Early Warning Against Cyanobacteria Scums) model predictions of scum will allow timely warnings and measurements.  Our delivery methods allow water utilities to combine water quantity and quality data in the available water management data systems (e.g. FEWS). As a result, our service will help to build a solid decision support model, enabling water utilities to take the right actions in order to improve surface water quality in general, and swimming water facing cyanobacteria blooms in particular.

The services of Cymons will be based on both processing of satellite images, near real time in situ monitoring as well as citizen participation measurements assisted by GNSS technology, in close combination with satellite communication.

Within the framework of the contract various stakeholders are involved; in particular two water utilities have been actively involved in the feasibility study: water utility Noorderzijlvest and water utility Rijnland. The resulting methodology and models are expected to be applicable also in the USA, Japan, Australia and Canada with additional applications in monitoring of drinking water intake and irrigation water.

Project partners: Water Insight and Deltares

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Links: Project Webpage ESA