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Algal Blooms - Causes and Management

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Algal Blooms - Causes and Management
Land Use
The frequency and intensity of algal blooms, particularly While there is no general
Soil toxic varieties of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), have agreement on what level of algal
become an ever increasing problem in Australia over biomass constitutes a bloom, it is
recent years, for both the environment and for domestic, generally accepted that the term
Status of Water Resources agricultural, industrial and recreational users of water. encompasses any concentration of
and Supplies phytoplankton sufficient to impair
Not all blooms of blue-green algae are toxic. However, water quality.
Victoria´s Water
algal blooms (from both blue-green algae and true algae)
can cause discolouration of water, unsightly scums, tastes An algal bloom is defined as:
Access to Water and odours, depletion of dissolved oxygen and the
production of toxins. the visible appearance of free
Water Resource floating algae or distinct
Tastes and odours can make water objectionable for discolouration of surface water
Biodiversity drinking and recreation. Where toxic, blooms can have (greening); and/or
serious health implications for recreational users, and an algal cell count greater than
Land and Water humans, animals and birds when contaminated water is 2,000 cells/ml of water.
Management contacted or consumed.
Causes of Algal Blooms
Catchment Region The growth of algae is influenced by a number of
Homepage environmental factors including nutrients, sunlight,
temperature, calm conditions, turbidity, pH, conductivity,
Soil & Land Survey Directory salinity, carbon availability, river flow and water storage
VRO Site Map

Feedback The development of an algal bloom is the result of a

complex interaction of the above factors. The combination
of factors that trigger and sustain an algal bloom is not
well understood at present and it is not possible to
attribute algal blooms to any specific factor.

Algal Bloom Management Algal Bloom on edge of waterbody

Photo: Ross Perry
Waterbodies that are affected by algal blooms, have high
nutrient concentrations, or are perceived to be at risk from
eutrophication or thermal stratification need to be properly Landcare Notes
identified. This will assist us to develop appropriate
catchment management strategies to address water Minimising algal growth on farm
quality issues. dams
Has your dam got a blue-green
Even with improved catchment and nutrient management, algae problem?
blooms will continue to occur in susceptible water bodies
into the forseeable future. Water managers (including
Water Authorities, councils, farmers and others) and the
general public need to keep a lookout for blooms, and
have contingency plans ready to deal with blooms and
minimise their effects.

A system of convening agencies has been established

across the state to coordinate a response to regional
blooms which can affect more than one water system and
a number of communities.

The National Scene

National and international liaison and information
exchange, is important in the response to algal issues.
Victoria plays its part on national bodies and committees.

Nutrient Management
Nutrient availability is one of the main factors responsible
for controlling algal growth. Algal blooms generally only
occur in waterbodies when nutrient levels are high.

These pages discuss the management of nutrients within

catchments, including programs such as Catchment
Nutrient Management Plans.

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Algal Blooms - Causes and Management

© The State of Victoria, 1996 - 2008.

This document was last reviewed on 24/09/2008[12/3/2008 9:45:19 AM]