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MVSD Efforts to halt growth of algae



Published: Fri, January 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



MVSD officials are being proactive against algae-induced taste and odor.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

MINERAL RIDGE -- Conditions this winter at Meander Reservoir are conducive to growth of the cold water algae that could cause taste and odor problems in its water, the superintendent of water purification has told the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District Board of Directors.

The reservoir is the source of drinking water MVSD supplies to Youngstown, Niles and surrounding communities. MVSD personnel have noticed a grassy taste recently in the water at the treatment plant, said John Zackasee, purification superintendent.

To be proactive in treatment, they've tripled the carbon they're adding to the treated water from 25 to 75 pounds per million gallons within the last month, Zackasee said.

This means MVSD is applying about a ton of carbon a day at a daily cost of about $850, he added. "It's one of the most costly items we use in treatment," he said.

What caused this: Several conditions have combined to promote the growth of algae this winter, Zackasee told the MVSD board Thursday. Heavy rainfall late last year carried nutrients into the lake.

The lake is now covered by clear ice, with no snow on top of it, which allows sunlight to penetrate, facilitating growth of algae in the water.

"It's just acting like a window right at the moment," he said.

The ice cover prevents natural aeration by wind, which would normally help to eliminate some of the odor, he explained. "We're underneath probably the worst conditions right now," he said.

At Thursday's meeting, the board renewed its agreement with Youngstown State University to monitor the water and study the causes of the reservoir's algae-related taste and odor problems for 2002 at a cost of $23,760.

YSU will also explore ways to give MVSD "some type of an early-warning system to get ready if we are going to have a problem," he said.

The reservoir's algae-related taste and odor problems date to the early 1980s.

What tests show: Recent tests by YSU have shown a form of algae, known as synura, is prevalent in the reservoir, but YSU personnel haven't yet identified the particular species of synura that is present, Zackasee said.

"There are very many species of synura, but only a few that impart taste and odor. One imparts a cucumber taste, and another one imparts a fishy taste," Zackasee said.

"We're taking a proactive approach, trying to figure out what's going on before things happen," Zackasee concluded.




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