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Shallow lagoons recover water quality of the Albufera of Valencia
27 January 2014
The shallow lagoons of ‘Tancat de la Pipa’ of the Natural Park l’Albufera de Valencia favour the reduction of nutrients and suspended solids, reducing the degree of eutrophication -pollution by microalgae increasing derived of excess nutrients- and increasing water clarity. This follows from the study being conducted by researchers at the University of Valencia and Universitat Politècnica de València, the first results were recently published in the journal ‘Ecological Engineering’.
These lagoons, which have four years in operation, have a combined area of 14 hectares and 0.3 to 0.7 meters deep; are fed with water from artificial wetlands ‘Tancat de la Pipa’, which in turn receives the eutrophic waters rich in microalgae from the l’Albufera lake.
According to the researchers, the improvement in the physical and chemical quality observed in them, and their own hydro-morphology, facilitates increased phytoplankton diversity and expansion of various species of zooplankton, especially those which consume microalgae present and develop with great difficulty in the lake. On the other hand, improving water clarity has facilitated periodic submerged aquatic plants, regular appearance on the lake until the sixties and nowadays disappeared .
The study is being conducted by the Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Valencia, coordinated by Professor Maria Antonia Rodrigo, and a team of the Engineering Institute of Water and Environment of the UPV, led by professor Miguel Martin.
"After four years of operation and about 10 hm3 treated yet, the first results show a physicochemical and biological improvement of the water that entering in it. Thus, for example, the total phosphorus is reduced by 49 %, with the output thereof a next mean value of 0.12 mg P/l, so close to the considered as maximum desirable (0.1 mg P/l) for any tributary to the lake. Assume, therefore, a second stage of treatment for the lake, after the improvement obtained by previous artificial wetlands", said Miguel Martín Monerris.
At present, efforts are focused on how to maintain a stable underwater vegetation in the lagoons since it has been established that their presence facilitates the development of zooplankton. "The recovery of these meadows is an essential goal in the aquatic ecosystem of l’Albufera recovery, and the experience with the lagoons of ‘Tancat de la Pipa’ shows that this is possible if we manage to improve the quality of waters of the lake", said Miguel Martín.
In short, the lagoons of ‘Tancat de la Pipa’ act as natural purifiers and "banks" of l' Albufera, shallow areas that allow the development of the biodiversity of plankton, plant and animal.