Austin Water gets new equipment to detect cyanotoxin threats

Austin Water says it has acquired new equipment that will allow in-house testing of raw source water and treated drinking water samples for cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins. 

The new equipment will reduce the wait for results to 24 hours and allow Austin Water to test more frequently as part of its regular operations. In the past, water samples for cyanotoxins were analyzed by multiple contract labs, which could take several weeks to get results. 

The new FlowCam Cyano enables rapid digital imaging analysis of raw water, according to Austin Water. The FlowCam will help in-house water quality lab technicians monitor for algae and plankton that could indicate taste and odor issues for drinking water at a minimum, as well as the presence of harmful cyanobacteria in the worst-case scenario. 

The FlowCam Cyano analysis takes about 15 minutes, which enables Austin Water to vastly increase testing frequency.

"We have a team focused on preparing for a cyanotoxin event, who have been implementing strategic plans for more than a year to be ready if the worst were to happen," said Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros. "We take this threat very seriously, and I’m proud of the vigilance and proactive measures our laboratory analysts and treatment team have put in place to detect and treat cyanotoxins."

Austin Water says it also purchased instrumentation to analyze raw source waters and treated drinking water for cyanotoxins through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also known as ELISA. 

This enables Austin Water to analyze water for the three most common cyanotoxins according to the EPA: Anatoxin-a, Cylindrospermopsin, and Total Microcystins. With the ELISA method, results can be achieved in less than 24 hours.

Click here for more information on cyanotoxins and current monitoring results.

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