Study on weed to fight al­gae

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Quick Look - By JON BAS­SETT

UNIVER­SITY of WA-based Cen­tre for Wa­ter Re­search PhD stu­dent Maria de la Paz Vi­las is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether an in­tro­duced wa­ter weed keeps toxic al­gae from West Leed­erville’s 70ha Lake Mon­ger.

“When there is none of it, a macro­phyte called curly leaf pond weed from Europe, it’s been ob­served that there have been blooms of toxic blue-green al­gae,” Ms de le Paz Vi­las, who pre­vi­ously stud­ied her na­tive Ar­gentina’s River Plate, Patag­o­nia and Antarc­tic lakes, said.

Con­tam­i­na­tion and nu­tri­ents ab­sorbed by the weed can come from 23 drains that feed and leave Lake Mon­ger.

The con­tam­i­nants’ sources can in­clude win­ter over­flows from Jolimont’s Ma­bel Tal­bot Lake 2km away, in ad­di­tion to run-off from neigh­bour­ing gar­dens, the ad­ja­cent Mitchell Free­way and in­fill at the City of Stir­ling.

Ms de le Paz Vi­las said her al­ready 18-mon­thold Town of Cam­bridge-spon­sored study was un­usual be­cause it looked at all fac­tors af­fect­ing Lake Mon­ger, com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the weed and phy­to­plank­ton in the wa­ter.

She wants to know how the weed and plank­ton re­cy­cle the nu­tri­ents at the bot­tom of the 1.2mdeep lake and how weather af­fects the weed’s role ab­sorb­ing the nu­tri­ents.

This could pos­si­bly cause the weed to grow quickly and maybe pre­vent al­gae blooms some years.

Cam­bridge’s $83,000, three-year schol­ar­ship has funded her work, in­clud­ing wind, wa­ter tem­per­a­ture and con­tam­i­na­tion mea­sur­ing de­vices on buoys at the south and cen­tre of the lake, which are read for re­sults weekly.

From 2010, the Cen­tre for Wa­ter Re­search also com­pleted a Cam­bridge-backed in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the lake’s above and be­low-ground wa­ter flows that carry ex­cess nu­tri­ents and run-off to the ecosys­tem, which evolved as a nu­tri­ent-low wet­land be­fore coloni­sa­tion.

Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers said that de­spite the stud­ies it would still be dif­fi­cult to con­trol the pol­lu­tants’ lev­els after coun­cil merg­ers be­cause there was still a lot of run-off from the neigh­bour­ing Mitchell Free­way, the City of Vincent and City of Stir­ling in­fill.

Maria de la Paz Vi­las is re­search­ing Lake Mon­ger weed, backed the Town of Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers.

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