Green-themed algae blooms not so good

A blue-green algae bloom in Warragamba Dam is still growing but Sydney’s drinking water is not under threat, the climate change, environment and water minister Phil Koperberg stressed today.

The bloom now stretches about 26 kilometres from the dam’s wall but Mr Koperberg said the cooler weather forecast for this week should cause the bloom to start dissipating.

Blue-green algae has forced the Sydney Catchment Authority to draw water from deep below the surface to avoid sucking the bloom into the city’s drinking water.

Warragamba dam, by the by, is just outside Sydney, to the south (bear in mind this is Sydney: “just outside” may not mean what you expect it to mean):

Warragamba wide

Warragamba focussed

So: 26 kilometres of algae bloom, you say. The reaction is also rather interesting:

“This is a mini-product of climate change, the abnormally dry and warm weather,” Mr Koperberg said. “Extended sunlight across that large body of water causes these sort of things to occur.”

Mr Koperberg spelled out the Government’s reasons for being unconcerned about it.

“A, there is nothing we can do about it; B, it’s a perfectly natural phenomenon which is a response of lots of nutrients being washed into the water; C, it’s not toxic,” he said.

His point A reminds of a Clarke and Dawe sketch, recently re-discovered:

Fictional, yet highly accurate, as per John Clarke’s genius. His points B and C don’t really count for much. That it’s due to extended sunny periods? You’re in Australia. I suppose he’s saying we might as well get used to it. That it’s not toxic at the moment may not keep it not toxic.

More importantly, none of this will matter much to Sydneysiders who drink the stuff – surely he was around for the giardia scare. Crayons are non-toxic, but good luck getting adults to eat them.

Sadly, none of the quality concerns are likely to have an appreciable effect on water demand in Sydney. I don’t know that all that much of our use goes to internal consumption. Our ecological footprints ought to really profit from all that bottled water, though.


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