Yes, it’s me again – Glyn Onione, Senior Technical Consultant of Aquatic Engineering in the UK

Rescuing a Eutrophic Brazilian Gem – Lake Restoration –

Glyn on Lake Pampulha Belo Horizonte with Phoslock

If you are a fan of Social Media, be it Facebook or Twitter, you will know of my recent trip to Brazil.  No, it was not a jolly, even though it was very enjoyable and all about Lake Restoration!  I was there to work and learn from two very knowledgable professionals in their own fields, Dr Tiago Finkler Ferrerira of Hydroscience and Nigel Traill of Phoslock Water Solutions.  They are working in partnership restoring an aquatic equilibrium to Lake Pampulha, which is a gem in the city of Belo Horizonte.  It is a man-made lake built in the early 1940’s, (Pampulha is also the name of the residential neighbourhood and administrative region).

Tiago of Hydroscience and Nigel of Phoslock on Lake Pampulha Brazil shaking hands

Oscar Niemeyer, one of the fathers of modern architecture, designed a group of buildings which are firmly seated on the banks around this large sinuous water body, his internationally acclaimed Church of Saint Francis of Assisi makes a stunning backdrop when working out on the water.  This is therefore an ambitious, but vitally needed lake restoration, which has been 3 years in the planning, no wonder they look so happy!  Tiago is part of a Brazilian restoration consortium Consorcio Pampulha Viva or roughly translated, The Consortium which brings Life to Pampulha. Remedial measures go beyond the use of Phoslock alone, I will touch on this later.

However, the Aquatic Ecosystem at Pampulha Lagoon is currently eutrophic and can, in certain areas, be a very unpleasant place to linger, despite daily endeavors of the hard working (and innovative) municipal authorities to literally de-litter the Lake, but unfortunately, they are making little headway.  The scale of the problem is difficult to comprehend until you actually see it and requires immediate Lake Restoration work!

Lake Restoration needed for this Eutrophic Lake in Brazil

Enter the rescue squad!

Tiago Finkler Ferreira MSc PhD (left) is the director of Hydroscience in Brazil, he has extensive experience in Project Management and Ecosystem Recovery, Limnology Monitoring, Quality Modelling of Water, Environmental Sanitation and Lake Restoration.

Hydroscience SPECIALISTS IN PROGRAMS MONITORING AND ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENTDr Tiago is one of the few experts in the lake restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems in Brazil.  His company has undertaken projects to reverse eutrophication and control cyanobacteria using Phoslock, bioremediation, eco – technologies (use of aquatic plants) and Biomanipulation.  Tiago has the sole distribution rights for Phoslock Water Solutions in Brazil and is amply demonstrating its effectiveness on some very challenging sites.  It is certainly a privilege and inspiration to be working alongside him.

Within the Consultancy, he has coordinated numerous diagnostic modelling studies / assessments of Aquatic Ecosystems; lakes, rivers, reservoirs and marine environments, so as to understand the potential hydrological, physical, chemical, biological and environmental mathematical scenarios.  This approach allows Hydroscience to predict eutrophication scenarios, sewage and effluent contaminants and to assess, then propose, solutions to mitigate or avoid impacts of the modelled water bodies and therefore to increase Lake Restoration success.

Tiago is well qualified and studied at the World-class Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands:

  • PhD in Water and Environmental Sanitation, Institute of Hydraulic Research (IPH), UFRGS), Porto Alegre / RS, 2009 – with doctoral internship at the Department of Water Quality Management and Aquatic Ecology, University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. 2009 2009
  • Post PhD in Water and Environmental Sanitation (IPH / UFRGS), Porto Alegre / RS. 2009-2011 in collaboration with the Quality Department of Water and Ecology Aquatic of Wageningen University.
  • Master in Ecology, UFRGS, Porto Alegre / RS, 2005.
  • Degree in Biological Sciences, UFRGS, Porto Alegre / RS, 2002.
  • Author of “Ecological Modelling Aquatic Ecosystems”, published in 2009 by publisher Workshop Texts, São Paulo.
  • Researcher Capes Cooperation Programme NUFFIC – natural cyanobacteria control in freshwater ecosystems in cooperation with the Quality Department of Water and Ecology Aquatic of Wageningen University.

Simply put, Phoslock is designed to remove phosphate from the water column and the benthic sediments of static water bodies, such as lakes and reservoirs, it’s not generally applied to flowing water.  Lanthanum (5%) is the active component of Phoslock which is blended with 95% bentonite and reacts with phosphate to form an insoluble and biologically inert compound.

Phoslock is designed to remove phosphate from the water columnPhoslock was developed in Australia by the CSIRO in the late 1990s by Dr Grant Douglas (US Patent 6350383), as a way to bind phosphates through the application of Lanthanum without compromising the delicate balance of Aquatic Ecosystems.

My contact, and I am sure I can say friend, Nigel Traill, is the Regional Manager of Phoslock Water Solutions Ltd for Europe, North and South America.  He is an extremely knowledgeable and passionate advocate of his product, having been intimately involved with it since its conception.  Nigel, although from Australia, has by coincidence, family on the Isle of Wight where the Aquatic Engineering HQ resides and we met at our offices during a periodic visit to the Island.  We had recently been working on jointly providing solutions to the water quality issues at Strathclyde Country Park, the venue of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Triathlon event.  So, it was good to work alongside him in Brazil…I borrowed a hat from him and he used my factor 50, as did Tiago, it was hot!!!

Phoslock is well known for successful Lake Restoration

As can be seen, when using it in lake restoration, Phoslock is more often added to the lake as a slurry solution.  It then disperses and drops through the water column, binding the phosphate and then sinks to the lake bed sediment, where it can continue to bind any phosphates released from the benthic silts, it therefore has the capability of controlling sediment phosphorus release which is one of the major headaches of lake restoration.

Excessive phosphate entering aquatic environments is one of the main causes of deterioration of water quality to the point of eutrophication and the increased need for lake restoration, where water chemistry drives algae production and dramatically affects the natural balance of the aquatic ecosystem.

Therefore, Phoslock’s ability to bind and remove biologically available phosphorus from a water is a major step towards restoring an equilibrium and thus improving water quality and the perfect lake restoration option.  In most conditions, more than 90% of available phosphate in the water can be bound up within about three hours of a Phoslock application. If, that is not amazing enough, governmental and independent research has collectively demonstrated Phoslock has a very low toxicity and is safe to use in a wide range of applications at recommended doses, in our case for lake restoration.

Enzilimp a bioremediator, a bacterial biological agentAs this is one of the largest environmental restoration projects of a water body using bioremediation techniques in South America, I was interested to meet Eduardo Ruga, a Director of Millennium Environmental Technology, another active arm of the consortium.  His company produces Enzilimp which is applied to a water in a similar manner as Phoslock, it is a bioremediator, a bacterial biological agent, which removes or neutralises contaminants in the water.  Its microorganisms digest organic wastes turning them into water and energy, thus eliminating odours.  Enzilimp is a natural product with no chemical additives, non-toxic, non-corrosive and free of pathogenic organisms.  Its use is absolutely safe and harmless to the health of people and animals, and is beneficial to the environment and also used in  lake restoration.  The selected strains of microorganisms found in Enzilimp have been approved by USDA (Dept. of US Agriculture as well as other official Brazilian authorities.

Phoslock being deployed to Lake Pampulha in Brazil for Lake Restoration

Tiago and Eduardo filling the application hopper with the Bioremediator Enzilimp on Pampulha.

You can now probably understand why I was so interested and indeed excited, at being invited to the beginning of the Pampulha Lagoon Project.  This will not be a short fix solution and I am hoping to return there very soon to help with the ongoing applications and assist with water quality mitigation and the lake restoration.  Watch this space!

Oscar Niemeyer’s internationally acclaimed Church of Saint Francis of Assisi on the banks of Pampulha Lagoon

Oscar Niemeyer’s internationally acclaimed Church of Saint Francis of Assisi on the banks of Pampulha Lagoon

The recovery project of Lagoa da Pampulha, has a budgeted of R $ 30 million and will run over the next two years (circa $8.4million or £5.76million). UNESCO will decide in June 2016 whether the entire complex of Pampulha will be eligible for Cultural Heritage Status. The intention of the Municipality of Belo Horizonte (PBH) is to have a mirror of clean water by the end of 2016 and achieve Class 3 water quality, which allows water sports to be undertaken, as classified by National Environmental Council (CONAMA). This is a huge ask – but from what I’ve seen of the expertise involved in this project and the sheer determination of the team – it is entirely possible – I hope they ask me back to their wonderful Pampulha Lagoon so that I can continue the story….

Aquatic Engineering work across the globe supplying aquatic solutions and consultancy.

Call 01983 616668 for specialist advice, or keep up to date with our Aquatic Projects here.