Online Cyanobacteria Monitoring in Source Water Treatment

Cyanobacteria Monitoring in Source Water Treatment

Members of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) bioMASS Lab, under the auspices of the Australian Research Council (ARC), started the execution of the “Linkage Project” – a coordinated effort to better monitor cyanobacteria in important watersheds.

Online information gathered from this project will be used to predict coagulant doses and powdered activated carbon application in the water treatment process. UNSW has collaborated with Xylem Analytics Australia and YSI to bring the full power of our next-level monitoring equipment into play.

Protecting source water resources is important for more than just human well-being.

Project Summary

Cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae, can impact water quality by releasing toxins that can be harmful to life and impart unpleasant taste and odor to the water. The project supports the water industry in managing these risks by providing a rapid, online tool to assist in their early detection and removal during water treatment. The project collaborators aim to ensure water quality guidelines are met during cyanobacteria blooms by developing a protocol for the application of an online analyzer to obtain real-time information. This information will direct the application of substances that will combat harmful algal blooms.


EXO2 Sondes and Legacy 6600-V2 Sondes in pre-deployment quality testing.

To meet their goals the UNSW team is deploying multiple EXO2 sondes for both spot sampling and continuous monitoring. Outfitted with YSI’s TAL Total Algae Sensor (#599103-01) the YSI sondes will sample for cyanobacteria among other parameters.


Dr. Arash Zamyadi (@ArashZamyadi), University of New South Wales conducting pre-deployment testing of an EXO2.


A YSI 6820 is suspended beneath an EXO2. Both feed into a CR1000 datalogger which transmits data to an online SCA database.


Protective housing system to protect UNSW’s critical water monitoring data.

The team is complementing their sampling efforts by also conducting continuous monitoring. The system automatically uploads water quality data to an online database where the team can review a live stream of information to help inform their models. By going to an online platform there’s no need to wait for regular trips to the field to start the work associated with data analysis.

Project Objectives 

  • The calibration of fluorescence probes for accurate cyanobacteria enumeration in a range of water quality conditions
  • The estimation and validation of cyanobacteria metabolites cell quotas and intra- and extra-partitioning for cultured and environmental cyanobacteria samples
  • The application and validation of the probe for the ‘real time’ determination of cell numbers and extracellular metabolite concentration to control PAC dose
  • The application and validation of the probe to assist in directing coagulant doses in the presence of cyanobacteria to achieve filtered water quality goals
  • The determination of the feasibility of the application of the probes as an online tool at a full-scale plant


Water sampling with an EXO2 at an intake site.


Water sampling with an EXO2 at the plant.

Xylem Analytics Australia and YSI Inc. are proud to be a part of this flagship project.

We are very eager to see the success of the online monitoring system in conjunction with our Sondes surveying for cyanobacteria levels.


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