Lake Albert's blue-green algae could be the subject of a Sydney Uni environmental research project

Wagga’s blue-green algae ridden Lake Albert has garnered the attention of a major university’s environmental research unit.

The University of Sydney’s Waste Transformation Research Hub applied for a NSW Environmental Research Grant this week in an attempt to launch a three year research project into Lake Albert’s unique algal growth. 

Associate Professor Ali Abbas, who is at the helm of the research project, said he had never seen anything quite like Lake Albert before. 

“Lake Albert stood out to us because it’s a shallow lake – shallow lakes are distinct because their body of water can heat up much more easily, and the expanded urban areas around them load a lot of nutrients into the water,” Associate Professor Abbas said. 

“Having the expertise among us at the university, and in consultation with the council, we'd be in a good position to resolve some of the issues at Lake Albert.” 

If successful, Associate Professor Abbas and his team could receive up to $150,000 to fund a research project that will see them create impressive wireless sensor technology capable of monitoring the Lake’s nutrient load.

Associate Professor Abbas said a better understanding of nutrients, which is the key factor in algal growth, would help them establish some long-term solutions to the lake’s woes. 

“We want to understand the current nutrient load but also the source of the nutrients,” he said.

“It is possible that nutrients have been accumulating over months and years, and the lake had just been waiting for an episode of warm weather, even a short-term episode, to bloom the cyanobacteria.” 

The University of Sydney has also been working closely with Wagga City Council to prepare its research proposal. 

The council’s manager of environment and city compliance Mark Gardiner said that, if the research proposal is approved, it would go a long way to assisting the council in developing a holistic management approach for the lake.

“It's always a good thing to have Sydney looking to the regional areas, and if we can benefit from the expertise that they can bring to the table, then that's a great thing,” Mr Gardiner said.

“Having a better understanding of what's happening with nutrients and how that might be managed will obviously assist in potentially being able to put in place strategies to minimise it.”

If approved, the University of Sydney’s research into Lake Albert’s blue-green algae problem will begin in January 2019. 

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