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LWP Releases “Solar Bees” to Control Reservoir Algae

posted 6/21/2017

Last summer’s end was a painful and frustrating time for Loveland Water and Power staff who treat and deliver water to the City’s customers, and for many of the people who consume it.

A perfect storm had brewed, driven by unseasonably high temperatures combined with an unusual consequence of the 2013 Flood that raised nutrient levels in Green Ridge Glade Reservoir. The result was a nearly unstoppable “bloom” of algae in the water supply reservoir that caused taste-and-odor problems that Loveland residents are unaccustomed to. While safety of the water was never in jeopardy, its earthy taste and smell were noticeable for many residents.

Since that unfortunate algae bloom, our Water Treatment Plant staff has worked in conjunction with Corona Environmental Consulting LLC to develop a strategy to prevent any reoccurrence.

Work has already begun. Enter the SolarBee SB10000, an aquatic robot that looks a little like a mechanical water strider, but fitted with solar panels. Technicians from Medora Corp., SolarBee’s manufacturer, launched four of them into Green Ridge Glade’s water May 12. Photos show one of the machines in place on the reservoir surface.

The machines will work, round the clock, mixing the surface water to keep algae from growing in the subsurface depth where they flourish. Each “Bee” provides coverage for 40 acres, so the four now in place are a perfect match for the reservoir’s 160-acre surface area.

The machines are in use widely in comparable settings where they have  eliminated or sharply reduced algae growth. And, they never give up. They run year-round, powered by solar panels that also charge onboard batteries for night power. SolarBees operate with little to no maintenance, constantly churning the water and keeping themselves ice-free in the process.

While Loveland Water and Power’s war-on-algae program will add components as the summer goes on, the launch of the SolarBees shows the battle is already under way. 

 

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