In 2000, Dalcon Environmental began monitoring the algae (including cyanobacteria) from several open drinking water sources on behalf of Water Corporation. The emphasis of the initial program was to identify and enumerate all algal and cyanobacterial taxa with an emphasis on those known to produce compounds causing off-tastes and odours and those known to produce toxins.
Compounds produced by algae and cyanobacteria which can cause off tastes and/or odours in drinking waters generally have no deleterious effects when consumed, but they affect the quality of drinking waters.
Exposure to cyanobacterial toxins could be by ingestion of drinking water contaminated with cyanotoxins and through direct contact, inhalation and/or ingestion during recreational activities on reservoirs or other waters used as drinking water supplies. The acute recreational exposure to cyanobacterial blooms and their cyanotoxins, particularly when ingested, can result in a wide range of symptoms in humans. There is also considerable evidence that chronic, long-term exposure to low levels of cyanotoxins can promote cell proliferation and the growth of tumours and also be related to the development of some neurodegenerative diseases.
Initially, several water sources from the Perth metropolitan area, the Albany region and the north-west of Western Australia were monitored. In late 2000, Water Corporation expressed an interest in developing a state-wide monitoring program to eventually monitor all or most of their drinking water sources (in excess of 150) throughout Western Australia. Dalcon Environmental partnered with Water Corporation in undertaking a pilot study and an expanded state-wide study to assess the algal and cyanobacterial assemblages of an expanded suite of water sources.
Dalcon Environmental provided a series of recommendations to Water Corporation based on the outcomes of the pilot study and expanded state-wide study regarding the seasonality and frequency for the monitoring of its drinking water sources.
In 2003, the Cyanobacteria and Algae Monitoring Program (CAMP) went state-wide with regular monitoring of up to 140 water sources from all over Western Australia. Dalcon Environmental continued to partner with Water Corporation providing management advice as the program developed and was streamlined always keeping up to date with national drinking water guidelines and national and international trends regarding the analysis of algae and cyanobacteria in drinking waters.
Refer to Freshwater Algae for more information regarding algae in drinking waters.