Use of flow management to mitigate cyanobacterial blooms in the Lower Darling River, Australia

Simon Mitrovic, Lorraine Hardwick, Forugh Dorani

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173 Citations (Scopus)


The growth of planktonic cyanobacteria in a weir pool on the Lower Darling River, Australia, downstream of the major regulated Menindee Lake system was examined. Blooms of the saxitoxin producing freshwater cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis occurred for two summers out of four studied. Large cell numbers of other cyanobacteria including Aphanizomenon, Planktolyngbya and Merismopedia also occurred during the same summer periods as the Anabaena blooms. The growth events also coincided with periods of improved light climate. Flow releases from the regulated Menindee Lakes System were assessed for their ability to either suppress bloom development or to mitigate pre-existing blooms over this period. A discharge of 300 ML/day (flow velocity of 0.03 m/s) was found to be sufficient to prevent prolonged periods of persistent thermal stratification, which also suppressed the development of A. circinalis blooms. A flow release of 3000 ML/day was effective at removing an established cyanobacterial bloom, and total cyanobacterial numbers declined from over 100 000 to <1000 cells/mL within a week. In two summers without blooms, higher flows and decreased light availability prevented the development of cyanobacterial blooms. Flow releases were effective at mitigating cyanobacterial growth through either the suppression of persistent thermal stratification or through dilution and translocation of cells. Greater discharges also increased turbidity, which diminished the growth of cyanobacteria through reduced light availability under the mixed conditions, which also reduced the ability for surface migration through buoyancy regulation. The volume of water required for different management strategies varied and is considered in terms of environmental allocations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011


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