Water Resources & Wetlands

River Torrens Water Quality Improvement Project

Despite being an important community asset and tourism icon for Adelaide, the Torrens Lake suffers from frequent and repeated blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.

Despite being an important community asset and tourism icon for Adelaide, the Torrens Lake suffers from frequent and repeated blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms. These microscopic blue-green algae are naturally occurring, but can reach high concentrations (or 'bloom') in situations where warm temperatures, stagnant water and high nutrient levels combine.

In high concentrations, blue-green algae can discolour water, form scums, produce unpleasant odours, and release toxins that can be harmful to both humans and wildlife. As a result, once blue-green algae concentrations reach a particular level, the Torrens Lake is temporarily closed to the public for health reasons. These lake closures can extend over weeks and months, causing significant social, economic and environmental impacts.

Despite being an important community asset and tourism icon for Adelaide, the Torrens Lake suffers from frequent and repeated blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms.  These microscopic blue-green algae are naturally occurring, but can reach high concentrations (or 'bloom') in situations where warm temperatures, stagnant water and high nutrient levels combine.

What is being done?

The River Torrens Water Quality Improvement Project was developed with the support of Green Adelaide, the Department for Environment and Water, SA Water, the Environment Protection Authority, and the City of Adelaide.

As part of the project, a variety of strategies have been tested to keep blue-green algae concentrations in the lake down over summer. The most successful strategy to date is to provide a controlled flow of fresh water down the river. This controlled flow dilutes nutrient levels, cools the lake water and keeps it well mixed.

More information

For further information about the project, please use the links below:

Water flow data

Managing Torrens Lake flyer

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