FlowCam® - Flow Imaging Microscopy Blog

Detecting and monitoring HABs in an Oregon river to ensure safe water

Anabaena from Clackamas Cove imaged through microscope and FlowCamThe Oregon Health Authority recently issued a health advisory after finding high levels of blue-green algae -- in this case, anabaena -- in the Clackamas Cove portion of the Clackamas River. Thankfully, the algae bloom is about four miles past the Clackamas River Water (CRW) drinking water intakes and did not affect the drinking water. 

When algae populations explode they can create harmful algae blooms (HABs). HABs are mostly fueled by excess nutrients in area waterways from various places like agriculture, sewage treatment plants, and runoff from lawns and paved surfaces. 

Anabaena is a type of cyanobacteria that can potentially produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals if it’s consumed in large quantities. While anabaena blooms don’t always produce toxins, it’s best to be cautious. 

To understand HAB dynamics you need data on species composition, abundances and biomass. Early detection is the most effective way to mitigate the effects of HABs. Routine monitoring is often required. 

CRW monitors algae populations and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) at a number of sites including CRW’s intake.  Along with other instruments, they use a FlowCam for the rapid identification and quantification of algae and nutrients in the system. This program will be collaborating with Clackamas Community College to include toxin identification over the next year.  >> Read the full article on the Clackamas River Water website

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Topics: Harmful Algal Blooms, Aquatic Research