Bad river odour blamed on algal blooms

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Pierra WillixBusselton Dunsborough Times
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Algal blooms have borne the blame for a smelly situation along the Vasse River.

Busselton residents last month took to social media to voice their concerns about the pongy problem, noting the off-putting odours emanating from the river could be smelled streets away.

Revitalising Geographe Waterways program delivery agency GeoCatch, which aims to improve water quality and waterway health of the lower Vasse, said the smell was likely caused by algae.

GeoCatch, involved in delivering aspects of the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program which aims to improve water quality and waterway health of the lower Vasse River, said the smell was likely caused by algae.

GeoCatch chairman Will Hosken said the group had not received any direct complaints about the smell of the river this year but complaints about smell were common at this time of year because as the weather heated up algal blooms became more prolific.

“The smell is likely to be coming from the algae that occurs annually in the river over summer as the temperature increases. The lower Vasse River has very high nutrient levels, particularly phosphorous, which fuels the algal blooms,” he said.

Mr Hosken said GeoCatch was working in the catchment with farmers and gardeners to reduce nutrients entering the river, which contributed to algal blooms.

He said the Department of Water was running trials in the river using a newly developed phosphorous-binding clay product HT-nanoclay as a means of reducing algal blooms in the State’s waterways.

“The trials have only been running for a few weeks however there is a visual improvement in the areas where the nanoclays have been used, which is really promising,” Mr Hosken said.

He said there was a lot of work being done by a number of agencies to improve water quality in the lower Vasse and other waterways in the Geographe catchment.

“It is a really exciting time and we hope that this work will lead to some real improvements,” Mr Hosken said.

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