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Golden algae in the Odra River. The first level of threat has been announced

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An increase in golden algae has been observed in the waters of the Oder – the Crisis Management Team of the Ministry of Climate and Environment reported on Friday. As we read in the statement, “the first level of threat has been assigned to a point above Wrocław in Łany.”

The golden algae flowed into the Oder from the Gliwice Canal – informed ZZK MKiŚ. Experts from the Ministry of Climate and Environment emphasized, however, that the ability of golden algae to develop in the dynamic river current is limited, but – as they noted – the low flows of the Odra River observed since the beginning of May constitute an additional factor increasing the risk.

On May 14, a meeting of the ZZK MKiŚ was held with the participation of representatives of the ministries of infrastructure and industry, Polish Waters and voivodes of the Odra voivodeships. The meeting was led by the Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment, Urszula Zielińska. It was added that due to the situation, the Chief Environmental Inspectorate increased the frequency of monitoring, and ZZK MKiŚ updated the recommendations for services.

First level of threat in the Odra River

According to the recommendations issued, the services are to, among other things, limit the possibility of golden algae from entering the Oder from the Gliwice Canal. It was decided that it is still necessary for Polish Waters to limit locking on the Gliwice Canal to a minimum and continue to appropriately control water flows. It was noted that voivode services and employees of Polish Waters conduct daily field visits, and crisis management teams remain in ongoing contact.

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The announcement noted that the next meeting of the ZZK MKiŚ was held on May 16 this year to adapt the recommendations to the dynamically changing situation. “As part of the adopted monitoring procedure, the first level of threat was assigned to a point above Wrocław in Łany,” the release said.

The Gliwice Canal is the main habitat

The Gliwice Canal – as it was written – is currently the main habitat of golden algae. “The threshold of the third (highest) threat level has been regularly exceeded since April 15 at some measurement and control points located on the canal,” it was written. It was added that in May it is planned to apply a measure to the Gliwice Canal that will limit the development of invasive algae. The action is to take place under the scientific supervision of the Institute of Environmental Protection-PIB.

It was noted that the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection conducts extensive intervention monitoring, which, in addition to basic water parameters, analyzes, among others: the content of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds, it also checks the number of golden algae cells (in a liter of water). The information is sent to Polish Waters, provincial crisis management centers and other authorized units. The data is also available on the website: gov.pl/odra.

“Spot fish kills are expected”

Experts from the Ministry of Climate and Environment admitted that the threat of toxic golden algae blooms is and will continue to occur. “In the spring and summer season, local fish kills should be expected in places where the invasive algae occurs, especially considering that weather and hydrological conditions are almost a month ahead of the typical values ​​for this time of year,” they wrote. Therefore – as explained – in addition to ad hoc crisis actions recommended by ZZK MKiŚ, there is also a need for a long-term strategy, which is currently being created from scratch as part of inter-ministerial work. Citing the results of an audit conducted after the change of government, it was reported that despite the former owners spending many millions of zlotys, automatic monitoring is in the initial, pilot phase. It was added that the current management of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, in consultation with other ministries, is working, among other things, on creating an active hydrological model that will enable industrial discharges to “see each other”. Possibilities of increasing retention and implementing investments in mine water desalination systems are also being analyzed, which will eliminate the cause of the problem, which is the high salinity of the Odra and Gliwice Canal waters.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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