Troublesome beauties

1st May 2014

So this is the little fella that’s been causing all the trouble!

diatom2Meet Asterionalla, the algae that has brought Greystones to a standstill. This is a diatom, a type of algae. They are tiny – only 0.06mm, but they tend to cluster together.

They grow in cool, clean freshwater and can bloom (ie undergo population explosion) in spring. The population continues to grow until the diatom runs out of the nutrients they need to survive. They will then die-off. This is known as the boom and bust!

Vartry Reservoir is currently experiencing such a population explosion. The large numbers of diatoms are blocking the filters in Vartry Water Treatment Works and are making it difficult to process and treat the water. While it causes difficulties with supply, thankfully, it does not pose a health risk.

*It might be the aquatic ecologist in me, but I think they are rather beautiful. I just wished they would find somewhere else to call home!