Sundridge asked to pioneer algae-busting technology

·3 min read

Sundridge may be on the verge of eliminating an algae problem with its lagoons by using ultrasound.

Council received a presentation about the cutting-edge technology from Paul Dyrda, the senior operations manager at the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA).

Dyrda says the ultrasound technology, called LG Sonic, works, and he wants council to approve the purchase of the $31,000 equipment.

That may happen this month when council debates the presentation.

Dyrda says the density and heaviness of the algal blooms at Sundridge's lagoons has “overwhelmed” the wastewater treatment system in the past.

“The facilities were not designed to treat water with that amount of algae,” he explains.

As a result, Dyrda says, the village's facility failed to meet environmental compliance objectives during warm weather since that's when algae is most active.

At one point, Dyrda says, OCWA considered using a floating ball system where enough balls are placed in the water system that they block the sun's ultraviolet rays which, in turn, stops the algae growth. The problem is the cost worked out to be $500,000.

OCWA applied for government funding for the floating balls, but the request was rejected.

However, around the same time, Dyrda says, OCWA staff learned about the ultrasonic technology, which breaks the algae down at a cellular level and then it dies.

OCWA received permission from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to try the technology on one of the lagoons last summer.

“So for two months we had the algae-control device in the middle of one lagoon and compared it to the other lagoon without the device,” Dyrda says.

“The difference was dramatic. The difference between the two lagoons was unbelievable and it was very successful.”

Dyrda says the ultrasonic technology is so cutting-edge he doesn't believe any other municipality has government approval to use it.

Dyrda says the one “caveat” with the technology is it only works on breaking down blue-green algae and green algae, which now plague the village's lagoons.

“So there's the potential that you get rid of one algae, but then another type takes its place,” he told council.

But, he added, there is no other option, like spending half a million dollars on the floating balls “which may or may not have worked.

“This (ultrasonic technology) is the better option of the two,” Dyrda said.

He wants council to approve the purchase so the equipment can be installed once the snow is gone. In addition to the $31,000 cost, installation wouldn't exceed $5,000.

Dyrda says last summer's pilot project made the village's lagoons compliant with government regulations and said once the LG Sonic system is in place “all the effluent water that's going to leave the lagoons is going to be compliant.”

With Dyrda during the presentation was OCWA's business development manager, Ted Smider.

“Sundridge is a pioneer in this and I know other parts of OCWA are looking at this particular technology to be used, so you're the first,” Smider said.

In response Mayor Lyle Hall said he was sure the village would hear more about the technology in the future and added “hopefully, we'll be the model for other organizations and municipalities.”

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget