There are three main aims within this research theme:
1) To review Australian industry methods for the quantification of cyanobacteria counts and biovolume measurements, cyanotoxins (particularly microcystins), toxigenicity and T&O genes and compounds detection, and propose modifications to secure public safety and satisfaction.
Considerable variation in cell count, biovolume, toxin, and gene quantification data is thought to be attributable to limitations and/or improper application of sampling protocols and/or laboratory methods. The development of high-quality standard sampling and laboratory methods and associated proficiency programs is therefore critical for obtaining reliable, comparable data, and is of particular importance to Melbourne Water to ensure that such methods are available for specification within the contracts of external service providers.
2) To investigate operators and service provider staff knowledge, perception and training requirements.
While operators play an essential role in dealing with algal blooms, there has been little done to investigate plant operators’ knowledge as to how customer complaints are recorded and managed in regard to bloom related issues including T&O events. The lack of a systematic approach reflects the need for further development of an effective response strategy, both to complaints and T&O/toxic events themselves.
3) Knowledge transfer to Melbourne Water staff and service providers in the water industry to improve understanding, risk and management of nuisance and harmful algae.
Successful application of knowledge generated during the course of this partnership requires transfer of the outcomes to all levels of Melbourne Water staff from operators and engineers to managers and directorial board members.