The annual North American Lake Management Society Conference (NALMS) is a meeting held near and dear by the attendees who make the trip to visit lifelong friends and colleagues each year - this time on the banks of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. Lake managers, limnologists, and government employees gather to learn about the latest technology for water quality monitoring, and share their passion for preserving our natural fresh waterbodies. The 2023 attendees truly embodied the spirit of the NALMS mission statement: "To forge partnerships among citizens, scientists, and professionals to foster the management and protection of lakes and reservoirs for today and tomorrow."
FlowCam joined other sponsors in the exhibit hall, where attendees could learn about various innovations for water quality monitoring and water treatment.
In addition to providing demonstrations at the FlowCam booth, water markets manager Polly Barrowman (pictured left) ran a FlowCam workshop with fellow exhibitors AquaRealTime and Phytoxigene. The goal of the workshop was to bring three HAB (harmful algae bloom) monitoring technologies to participants and instruct them on integrating these tools into their monitoring plan.
The workshop provided a comprehensive introduction to HAB monitoring, from reservoir sampling to data analysis. Early detection of toxin-producing cyanobacteria with the potential to cause a bloom is crucial to lake managers and drinking water utilities — as these organisms have the potential to cause adverse health effects in humans and animals. Early warning tools are needed to assess environmental conditions and stop blooms in their nascent stages.
After an introductory presentation on the benefits of FlowCam as part of a comprehensive HAB monitoring strategy, Polly ran samples from Lake Erie on a FlowCam Cyano instrument, and demonstrated the classification of data using VisualSpreadsheet libraries and filters. As part of the hands-on portion of the workshop, participants then ran their own algae culture samples, and explored the various ways in which images can be sorted. Each group was given the opportunity to view and sort the data using various particle properties and to perform data classification both manually and using a semi-automated process. Workshop attendees left with an understanding of how FlowCam can be used to determine a phytoplankton baseline and trigger levels for effective HAB monitoring.
Pictured below: A selection of algae from the Lake Erie sample imaged on FlowCam Cyano, showing lots of diatoms and some cyanobacteria.
In addition to learning about FlowCam, participants gained hands-on experience with the AquaRealTime AlgaeTracker, an online multi-parameter measuring and reporting system, and with the Phytoxigene™ CyanoDTec test - a quantitative PCR assay. They learned how each of the three tools provides different and complementary information and can be used together for an in-depth understanding of cyanobacteria populations.
The 2024 NALMS conference will be held in Lake Tahoe, California next fall. We hope to see you there!