Our approach to developing the Eutrophy Solution was to look beyond the inanimate sterility of pure engineering and inorganic chemistry to Systems Theory and the life sciences to understand a water body as a biotic system or biome. It is only under this paradigm that it is possible to understand, articulate, and influence the dynamics of the interplay between the Water Cycle and the Nutrient Cycle. The crux of the problem of eutrophication lies in the way in which nutrients are processed in an aquatic biome. The processes that prevail are determined by the dominant organisms that consume and transport nutrients through the food chain.
Eutrophication is characterized by the skewing of the Nutrient Cycle to produce undesirable organisms that distort natural process. Such organisms consist primarily of algae and cyanobacteria. Since nutrients are abundant and are perpetually added to the water body, attempting to manage the Nutrient Cycle by starving it through reducing nutrient inflows is futile and doomed to failure. The solution to eutrophication, therefore, lies in ensuring that the Nutrient Cycle is directed to establish and support a robust, productive “food chain” enriched by the fullest possible biodiversity.
In order to displace a dominant system attractor, a clear understanding of systems dynamics and processes is required. Therefore, Systems Theory dictates at the outset that an effective solution to eutrophication must utilize and demonstrate:
- Progressive Displacement of anaerobic benthic conditions utilizing the Ratchet Effect, in which a system is positively and irreversibly transformed.
- The re-establishment of aerobic benthic conditions as the dominant system behavior
- Re-establishment of biodiversity in the system to ensure that biochemical pathways are maintained to support the elimination of Nitrogen and Phosphorous from the water body. This transforms the Nutrient Cycle to support a robust, productive “food chain”
- Sustainable mechanisms to impart system Inertia to Disruption of the new system state in the face of continued chronic Nitrogen and Phosphorous contamination imposed by man-made conditions such as wastewater treatment plants, agricultural fertilizer, and manure runoff.
Since Systems Theory is not a widely understood scientific discipline, we will demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach using case studies of projects over the last decade. These studies illustrate how our system and products reverse eutrophication and favorably impact stratification, biological community health, natural habitat, and recreation. They also show how our solution delivers systemic, holistic solutions to eutrophication through effective Nutrient Cycle management in the aquatic environment.
The conventional engineering component of our solution is made up of proprietary devices that are designed to deliver rapid destratification and reoxygenation of the water body. These devices are driven by shore-based air compressors. This causes air to be released into the water column. However, the action and effect of these proprietary devices cannot be compared to that of “aerators’, “bubblers” or “diffusers” used in conventional “aeration” systems, nor “updraft”, “downdraft”, or any other form of forced circulation. These devices provide partial solutions, whereas the Clean-Flo system provides full oxygenation of both the water column and water in sediment pore volume. Unless destratification and reoxygenation of the water column are achieved completely, including pore water in the sediments, effective Biotechnology interventions cannot be delivered to influence nutrient processing. A complete solution transforms the Nutrient Cycle in order to reduce in-lake nutrient loads and obviate the proliferation of cyanobacteria, algae, and invasive aquatic weeds.
CASE STUDIES & CASE STUDY GUIDES
The Case Studies provide a wealth of detailed information and analysis which can be studied at leisure. The purpose of the Case Study Guides is to highlight data of particular relevance and to provide some interpretation of this data in order to assist the reader to rapidly understand and assimilate the information.
1. ADDRESSING ROOT CAUSES:
Destratification & Reoxygenation:
Bel Marin Keys CA
The temperature and dissolved oxygen gradients are clearly shown in this 30 feet deep eutrophic lake. Stratification was broken within 10 weeks as clearly demonstrated by the virtual elimination of the temperature gradient and dissolved oxygen levels at the bottom that are higher than they were at the top before treatment began.
Extensive water quality data demonstrate the elimination of anaerobic conditions in the benthic zone and the conversion of the Nitrogen present from ammonia to nitrates.
Lake Peekskill NY
Dissolved Oxygen levels were measured at 4 sites determined by the client. Site 2 which is at a depth of 23 feet is most revealing. When the system was commissioned on June 20th the water column was anaerobic (defined as DO of less than 5mg/l) at 15 feet.
Nine weeks later on August 23rd, the water column was aerobic all the way down to 23 feet where DO was 5.41mg/l.
Two months after that, on October 22nd, DO was 8.9mg/l at 23 feet.
Hammonton Lake NJ
Hammonton Lake was subject to discharges from overloaded wastewater treatment works (WWTW) which created dangerously high E. coli levels in the lake. The lake was used primarily for recreation but it got to the point wherein 2006 the lake was only safe and open for public use on 13 days.
Installation of Clean-Flo’s solution created aerobic conditions hostile to E.coli so that E.coli levels could be maintained below the regulated limit of 300 per 100ml.
On one occasion, two thunderstorms caused stormwater flushing of the WWTW to deposit massive E. Coli contamination into the lake. This raised pathogen levels well above permissible limits. Yet within 48 hours, aerobic conditions were restored, ensuring that the E. coli were eliminated and normality restored. This demonstrates the System inertia to disruption and self-recuperative capacity that has been imparted to the water body.
Hammonton Lake illustrates the benefits for recreational use of a lake that is derived from the maintenance of aerobic conditions that are hostile to pathogens.
Digestion of Accumulated Organic Sediment &Reduction on In Lake Phosphorus Loading:
Austin Lake MI
Austin Lake is over 1,100 acres and in 2013 was one of the first lakes where independent monitoring and testing verified the effectiveness of Clean-Flo technology in achieving aerobic conditions deep in the sediment and digestion and elimination of that sediment.
In a 2014 study of the improvements gained using our technology it was established that
- a mean reduction of 11.6 inches of sediment was achieved
- DO measure with a probe at a depth of 18 inches into the sediment was shown to have risen from 0.33mg/l to 6.5mg/l. This means that at a depth of 18 inches into the sediment an aerobic condition prevails.
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, we are now capable of gaining a better understanding of the changes occurring at the bottom of water bodies. These 3 lakes exhibited changes that occur with our sediment reduction process. When conducting a bathymetric survey of a lake, it is possible to accurately calculate the total volume of water in the water body. By conducting such an analysis and calculation before and after implementing our solution it is possible to calculate the increase in water volume that is achieved by the elimination of sediment.
Furthermore, when the Phosphorus concentration per kg of the sediment is known, it is possible to calculate the amount of Phosphorus eliminated from the total in lake Phosphorus load.
To provide some context, it is worth noting that a study entitled “Determination of sediment phosphorus concentrations in St. Albans Bay, Lake Champlain: Assessment of internal loading and seasonal variations of phosphorus sediment-water column cycling” conducted by Greg Druschel, Department of Geology, University of Vermont estimated that the top 4cm (1.6 inches) of sediment in St Alban’s Bay contained 500 tons of Phosphorus and the top 10cm (4 inches) of sediment contained 1,200 tons of Phosphorus. If we assume that the area of St Alban’s Bay is 2,000 acres, then this equates to 1.8 tons of Phosphorus load per acre-foot.
At Lake Peekskill in Putnam Valley, NY the bathymetric survey determined that the implementation of our technology achieved a reduction in total sediment volume of just over 30 acre-feet. Based on the average sediment concentration of Phosphorus in the sediment in Lake Peekskill this equated to approximately 83,600lbs. or 41.8 tons of Phosphorus that were eliminated.
This was achieved by a mean reduction of 6 inches of sediment over the initial four-month period of application of our in lake Phosphorus load reduction program. By extrapolation, this would equate to a reduction of 1,800 tons of in lake Phosphorus load in St Alban’s Bay, Lake Champlain VT.
2. WATER COLUMN CHEMISTRY:
Once destratification and reoxygenation have been achieved and bio-augmentation is started, improvements in water quality chemical parameters at all depths are achieved. These can include reduction of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), manganese (Mn), Chlorophyl-A (an indicator of algal concentrations), and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs, carcinogenic byproducts of drinking water disinfection with chlorine).
Toa Vaca Reservoir:
Toa Vaca Reservoir is 836 acres and is a source of raw water for purification plants that supply water to most of the municipalities located along the south coast of Puerto Rico. Thirteen years after construction, its capacity had been reduced by 13.5% due to the build-up in sediment, which reduced the effective volume of the reservoir. Between January 2011 and January 2014 an extended period of drought caused the level of water to drop by 60 feet. Thus, contaminants in the lake were effectively more concentrated due to the reduction in water volume.
By December 2013, high levels of manganese, geosmins (noxious odor and taste-producing compounds), and hydrogen sulfide in the water were creating taste and odor problems with the potable water produced by the purification plants. Only 2 of 6 gates used to draw water from the reservoir could be used and the cost of purification was rising rapidly.
Implementation of Clean-Flo’s solution saw increases in dissolved oxygen levels and reduction in manganese and hydrogen sulfide levels so that all 6 gates could again be used to draw water. Purification costs decreased by 60%. This in turn enabled the two water purification plants on Toa Vaca to become compliant with regulatory standards for TTHMs. This contrasts starkly with a purification plant on a nearby reservoir that does not have Clean-Flo technology installed which remains unable to achieve compliance for TTHMs.
Of more significance was the fact that over the next 12 months the fish population increased dramatically in numbers and size causing the number of pelicans on the reservoir to increase from 5 to 28 and the number of fish eagles to increase from 2 to 10. This is clear evidence of the restoration of biodiversity of the food chain.
This also illustrates the benefits for recreational use of a lake that is derived from the maintenance of aerobic conditions and management of nutrient processing in the Nutrient Cycle.
3. SYMPTOMATIC RELIEF:
The most perplexing symptoms of eutrophication for the general public are an excessive proliferation of invasive aquatic weeds, algae, and cyanobacteria that cause toxic and hazardous algae blooms (HABs).
Invasive Aquatic Weeds & Algae:
Indian Lake MI
Indian Lake is 499 acres and made up of two distinct deep basins. A project was set up whereby Clean-Flo technology was implemented in one basin including bio-augmentation. At the far end of the untreated basin, a Control area was monitored and a third area where bio-augmentation alone was dosed was also monitored.
This arrangement gave a basis for comparison between the three zones. However, it must be understood that there is significant mixing of water between the zones and this must be factored into any analysis.
The results demonstrated the positive impact that our destratification, re-oxygenation, and bioaugmentation technologies have had on biodiversity by reducing excessive weed and algae growth, rebalancing the distribution of aquatic flora, eliminating cyanobacteria, and managing the phycological balance.
Paradise Lake MI
Paradise Lake is 1,878 acres and was one of the earliest scientific studies to quantify the effectiveness of our biotechnology in eliminating accumulated organic sediments and the importance of this in reducing this rooting medium as a tool in reducing milfoil.
The area covered by milfoil was reduced by 73% from 220 acres to 59 acres.
Algae & Cyanobacteria:
Both of the cases selected below describe intense long-term cyanobacteria dominant water bodies with exceeding high cyanobacteria cell counts.
Oshoek Ponds, South Africa
Oshoek Ponds in South Africa are situated downstream of dysfunctional, non-compliant wastewater treatment works. The ponds were acutely affected by an excessive proliferation of cyanobacteria (Microcystis sp.) which had become completely dominant. For various reasons related to contractual disputes, the wastewater treatment works itself could not be addressed and Clean-Flo was tasked with eliminating the toxic cyanobacteria and algae.
This was rapidly achieved, and although there was a slight resurgence in late summer, the level of Microcystis sp reached a negligible 2,775 cells per ml, having been 4,778,402 cells per ml prior to implementation of the Clean-Flo solution.
Bowling Green Reservoir OH
Bowling Green reservoir is quite an extreme case. It draws very high levels of nutrients, algae, and cyanobacteria from the Maumee River into the reservoir where typically the cyanobacteria proliferate and dominate during summer months. This has caused major issues with microcystin toxin (produced by HABs) levels.
The case study shows how our solution has enabled the total phycological count to be significantly reduced and the phycological balance to be managed in favor of diatoms to the detriment of cyanobacteria.
Prior to the installation of Clean-Flo technology, both bottom-based aeration and forced circulation had failed to deliver a solution to the cyanobacteria problems.
4. BEYOND EUTROPHICATION:
Clean-Flo’s Biotechnology Solutions for water quality management were developed from first principles. They integrate engineering and biotechnology expertise to manage physical conditions, manage nutrient processing through the Nutrient Cycle, and effectively improve water quality throughout the Water Cycle. This is evidenced by the fact that they have been successfully deployed not only in natural environments, but in conventional wastewater treatment plants of all designs, wastewater treatment for intensive livestock operations, and intensive aquaculture operations as well.
Our focus on Systems Theory, Biotechnology, and the Nutrient Cycle is not a pedantic academic distinction or a marketing differentiation tactic.
Conventional explanations of the eutrophication process define the cause as being the inflow and accumulation of excess Nitrogen and Phosphorus.
In the Case Studies and projects we have presented, excess Nitrogen and Phosphorus continue to flow into the lakes, dams, and reservoirs in various ways. This is unavoidable because of the limitations of our conventional wastewater Treatment technology where our solutions have not yet been implemented, unavoidable runoff, and seasonal leaves and vegetation which fall into water bodies.
But excess nutrients in the form of Nitrogen and Phosphorus are not in and of themselves the cause of System degradation and eutrophication. It is the formation of an anaerobic benthic zone that transforms the dominant Attractor driving system behavior that causes eutrophication.
When the benthic zone is converted and maintained as aerobic again, and inflowing contaminants are enzymatically digested to provide food substrate for aerobic microbes, stratification is reversed, organic contaminants are eliminated, the food chain is re-established, eutrophication is reversed, and a robust healthy biome is re-established. This is despite the fact that Nitrogen and Phosphorus are still flowing in at the same “contaminating” rate. These contaminants/nutrients are directed through metabolic pathways to promote the proliferation of a healthy sustainable food chain rather than noxious nuisance aquatic weeds, algae, and cyanobacteria.
This is the only effective way to reduce the internal phosphorus loading in a water body.
As the Case Studies demonstrate, our Biotechnology-based solution to eutrophication impacts positively and sustainably on stratification, biological communities, natural habitat, and recreation.