New approach to reef protection

QUEENSLAND'S State Government is backing a study into the use of algae to purify run-off from north Queensland cane farms into Great Barrier Reef waters.

Algae-based filtering and water purification systems, as refined by James Cook University Macroalgal Resource and Biotechnology researchers, is a fledgling technology that has been used in other industries, including aquaculture.

However, this is believed to be the first time it has been seriously investigated as a solution in the cane industry.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries reef and wetlands project manager Carla Wegscheidl said both the Queensland and Australian Governments, through the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, were committed to improving water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

"Algae bioremediation has proved to be effective in removing nutrients from aquaculture wastewater, and laboratory trials show that it can remove more than 80% of dissolved inorganic nitrogen from cane farm irrigation tailwater."

A feasibility study being funded by DAF as part of the Queensland Wetlands Program is being undertaken by the Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee with input from researchers.

The report is expected to be completed later this year.

Gympie Times

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