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Operational Evaluation of Phoslock Phosphorus Locking Technology in Laguna Niguel Lake, California

Abstract

Management strategies that prevent the onset of nuisance and noxious cyanobacteria blooms are needed to preserve the integrity and safety of freshwater resource uses. Scientifically defensible data are needed regarding efficacy of proactive approaches in order to assist water resource managers in making informed decisions. As phosphorus availability has been indicated as a crucial aspect of cyanobacteria presence/dominance in freshwater systems, the integration of novel technologies to inactivate phosphorus is a critical component to achieve improved water quality. Phoslock (Phoslock Water Solutions, Ltd.) phosphorus locking technology is composed of the element lanthanum in a bentonite clay matrix that has a high specificity to bind and inactivate soluble reactive phosphorus. This research evaluated the phosphorus binding efficiency of Phoslock in aqueous and sediment matrices and the consequent impact on algae assemblage composition and water quality parameters. Laguna Niguel Lake in California afforded an opportunity to evaluate the operational effectiveness of Phoslock in a system historically plagued by high phosphorus concentrations, potentially toxic cyanobacteria (Aphanizomenonflos-aquae dominant), and lake closures. Phoslock was able to rapidly (<2 weeks) and significantly (p < 0.0005) decrease total (>80 %) and free reactive (>95 %) phosphorus in the water column and shift potentially releasable sediment phosphorus fractions to residual forms after treatment. Despite documented cyanobacteria blooms and high pretreatment cell densities, cyanobacteria levels remained below or near detection limits and only comprised a small fraction of the algae assemblage following Phoslock application. This study provides water resource managers an information on operational implementation and efficacy of a phosphorus binding technology.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank AquaTechnex LLC personnel for their diligence in sampling, efficiency in application of Phoslock, and overall leadership of this project. Additional thanks to Orange County Parks and Recreation for their cooperation in implementation of this project and Phoslock Water Solutions, Ltd. for their technical support of this project.

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Correspondence to Ben E. Willis.

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Bishop, W.M., McNabb, T., Cormican, I. et al. Operational Evaluation of Phoslock Phosphorus Locking Technology in Laguna Niguel Lake, California. Water Air Soil Pollut 225, 2018 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-014-2018-6

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Keywords

  • Phosphorus
  • Cyanobacteria
  • In situ management
  • Water quality