IWA Publishing

The response of phytoplankton and microlayer-adapted bacteria to monolayer application in a humic, eutrophic irrigation dam

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Repeat applications of artificial monolayers to farm irrigation dams to reduce evaporative loss may adversely affect water quality by enhancing populations of microlayer-adapted bacteria and blue-green algae. The microlayer, subsurface and water column of a 16 ha dam were monitored every two weeks for 18 months, to benchmark the seasonal dynamics of phytoplankton and microlayer-adapted bacteria prior to monolayer application. Results for Secchi depth, total P, total N, chlorophyll a, phytobiovolume and UV254 absorbance, characterise Logan's Dam as humic and hypereutrophic. Seasonal peaks in the cyanobacterial species Microcystis aeruginosa and Anabaena sp. associated with regular thermal stratification periods over summer, exceeded the Queensland algal bloom alert level. Dissolved organic matter derived from aromatic char in the black soil used to construct the dam was the main substrate for microlayer-adapted bacteria. Intermittent monolayer application over seven weeks in late summer temporarily increased surface pressure, indicating a condensed monolayer had formed, with no increase in chemical oxygen demand or in populations of cyanobacteria or microlayer-adapted bacteria. The increase in dissolved organic carbon was well below the concentration recorded after a pump ingress event in late spring. In this humic hypereutrophic irrigation dam, repeat applications of the experimental monolayer formulation did not adversely affect water quality.

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