Category Archives: Performance

Solarbee performance either positive or negative

SolarBees Inc Comment on Oso Reservoir

We recently received a comment from Joel Bleth, President of SolarBees, Inc that provided additional information related to recent events at Oso Reservoir. Since comments are not displayed as promently as posts we have created this post which contains Mr. Bleth’s comments provided on November 03, 2009 related to the post entitled “Algae Stink No Health Risk In Oso Reservoir“.

Joel Bleth Says:

November 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm e

Hello, Devil Lake stakeholders.

As president of SolarBee, Inc. I have been meaning to send you a note from time time to time. This is the first one, and it will be a short one on Lake Oso problems.

Basically, in a nutshell, you should know that Lake Oso, mentioned above, is not a “lake” in the regular sense of the word. Since 2008, instead of being supplied with fresh water as it was for years, Lake Oso now serves as a large “wastewater reuse pond” for irrigation. It now receives and discharges about 5-8 mgd of treated wastewater per day, from 2 plants, typically at < 10 mg/l of Carbon BOD, < 10 mg/l of Nitrogen, < 1 mg/l of Phosphorus.

Depending on the season and lake elevation, this body of treated wastewater can range from over 100 surface acres and 65 ft deep, to 35 acres and 30 ft deep, or anywhere in-between.

For SolarBee, Inc. this is a new, fascinating and important project, because wastewater is virtually never stored in a large and deep reservoir such as Lake Oso. In these reservoirs there can be huge problems with low oxygen throughout most of the water column, the cost-prohibitive ongoing waste of grid energy if aeration alone is relied on to solve the problems, algae bloom issues due to high nutrients as with all wastewater ponds, and the production of sulfur-based odorous compounds at the sediment which can escape at turnover.

The use of Lake Oso to receive and discharge treated wastewater, unique today, may become commonplace in the future. In California, a US leader in water resuse, only about 15% of water is being reused, and that figure needs to rise dramatically if we hope to have enough water to go around in the future. And an important part of the solution will be the knowledge to deal with water quality problems in large deep wastewater reservoirs such as Lake Oso. That’s why SolarBee machines are in Lake Oso. We have had success in hundreds of “normal” shallower wastewater ponds, and have a good chance of solving the problems in Lake Oso. In 2009, despite the November odor event, there were far less water quality problems than in 2008. And in 2010, I think even more progress can be made.

In short, the takeaway point for your group is that if you ever decide that Devil’s Lake water quality needs improving, there is one company in the US that is fulltime tackling the toughest reservoir problems in the country.

Thanks for your interest and for reading this!

Joel Bleth, President, SolarBee, Inc.

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Algae Stink No Health Risk In Oso Reservoir

In June of 2008 the Santa Margarita Water District replaced a bubbler aeration system with four SolarBees on Oso Reservoir in Mission Viejo Califorina. The OC Register reported on November 2, 2009 that a “foul odor sniffed by residents of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita since Wednesday”… “The stench is the result of an algae bloom in the Upper Oso Reservoir sparked by Wednesday’s cold weather and high winds, said Dan Ferons, chief engineer for the water district.”

OSO Bloom

Dead fish line the shore of the the Upper Oso Reservoir - LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY

The water district has taken several steps to bring oxygen levels back to normal and eliminate the odor. Mechanical aeration equipment has been used since Friday to pump air to the bottom of the reservoir. Four solar-powered pumps known as SolarBees have continued to aerate the water.

On Saturday, the water district started pumping fresh water into the lake at the rate of 200 gallons per minute; today, the rate was increased to 1,500 gallons per minute. Two boats were being used today to generate waves in order to spur oxygen intake at the surface. An external pump was also being used today to aerate the water. The water district is also considering use of a mechanical device to pump ozone, whose molecules include three atoms of oxygen, into the lake.

For more information visit the orginal articles in the OC Register.

Algae stink no health risk for south O.C., official says

New solar technology keeps water clean


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Update on Blue Lake

Source: November DLWID Management Report – Paul Robertson

Blue Lake which has had 3 Solar Bee units installed since 2007 recently had a cyanobacteria bloom that caused a DHS toxin warning. A new property owner on the lake coincidentally called us thinking we had SolarBees on Devils Lake and he wanted to talk about management strategies. Through our conversation it mentioned that in fact a few weeks prior the lake did turn really green, as if green oil had been spilt. He said that it he went waterskiing since, and that it had cleared up. He estimated that it lasted approximately 2 weeks at most. I also solicited information from Joe Eilers at SolarBee who sent this email reply:

Basically, we think the bloom was initiated by a major influx of high- P water. Blue Lake has no surface inlets and loses water from evaporation through the summer. The homeowners like to have Metro request inputs of water from their back-up production wells near the lake. Around the end of August they added about 8% of the lake volume with groundwater containing about 90 ug/L PO4. That coincided with the Anabaena getting going about 10 days later. The in Sept, the lake turned over, releasing another pulse of high-P water. Anyway, we are trying to get the water quality data from Metro so we can better determine the timelines and the lake response. As soon as we have that, I’ll dive into the data and try to sort things out. Joe

Jack Strayer initiated contact with Elaine Stewart, of METRO regarding Blue Lake. She is willing to send their findings once they complete them. I have had two phone attempts at getting a preview of such findings, and anticipate a call back.

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Blue-green Algae Alert Issued for Blue Lake

In April of this year Metro approved the purchase of 3 SolarBees® for permanent placement on Blue Lake.  The units had been in continuous operation for the previous 24 month during a trial on the Lake.  The Oregonian recently reported …

By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian

October 14, 2009, 5:04PM

This is not a good time to go for a brisk swim in Blue Lake east of Portland — and not just because of the weather.

The popular lake on Northeast Marine Drive is contaminated with toxins.

Recent tests show that the lake, which draws 300,000 people a year, has dangerous levels of blue-green algae.

Scott Paskill,  manager of the area for Metro, the regional agency that manages part of the lake, said the lake was covered with a scum a few days ago but he said that conditions appear to be improving.

Officials have posted signs around the lake, warning people to stay away from the water and not to fish.

Blue-green algae flourish in warm weather and also when the seasons change, producing toxins that can contaminate fish and the water.

It is dangerous to eat shellfish or crayfish from tainted water, and officials recommend that the fat, skin and organs be removed from other fish before eating.

Contaminated water can irritate the skin as well and cause nausea, diarrhea and even liver damage. Children and pets are especially susceptible.

In August, high blue-green algae levels in Elk Creek in southern Oregon killed as many as four dogs, which suffered convulsions and died quickly after frolicking in the water during visits with their owners.

Paskill is not concerned about that happening at Blue Lake.

“We don’t allow pets in the park,” he said, “and no one is using the park right now.”

A month or two ago, when the weather was warmer, it would have been a different story.

Covering 64 acres,  the lake is a popular fishing and swimming spot in summer for Portland-area residents.

Still, about 300 people live in the Fairview neighborhood, about 15 miles from downtown Portland. Paskill said they have been informed about the algae.

“It’s not like it’s the middle of summer,” he said, “but we do have to notify the public.”

For more information, call the state’s harmful algae program at 971-673-0400 or visit this Web page:

— Lynne Terry


Filed under Algae Bloom, Performance, Solarbees, Water Quality

Something’s in the Air: Water Odor the Focus

Berthoud Recorder
By Shari Phiel

Berthoud’s water quality has once again come to the forefront of concerns for local residents. For the past few weeks, Town staff have fielded about 30 calls a day from Berthoud citizens concerned about a noxious odor and taste in their water.

At the Tuesday, Aug. 25 Board of Trustees meeting at Town Hall, numerous residents voiced their concerns to their elected officials about the problem. Like many, Berthoud citizen Billie Norris said she disliked “paying for something I’m not getting.”

Gary Suiter, the interim Town administrator, said staff are working to resolve the issue. Suiter noted the Town has recently contracted with CDM Engineering to “perform an evaluation” of the Berthoud water treatment system and provide feedback and recommendations for any changes that can be put in place.

The interim administrator also noted that Berthoud’s Public Works Department has completed about 30 water tests from various residences and all have tested safe to drink. He also contacted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to confirm the test results.

But what is causing the bad odor and taste? The problem seems to stem from algae growth at local reservoirs. An Aug. 14 analysis of waterborne particulates found Anabaena, an algae known for its fetid smell, present in Berthoud water. Carter Lake area resident Mick Shupe noted the smell is particularly bad in that area. He suggested the Town look at introducing “Grass Carp,” which are algae eaters, to the lake.

“This is a universal problem,” said Suiter, noting that according to the public health department, many other communities have faced similar problems. One recommendation from public health was to use copper sulfate during water treatment. However, the idea of adding even more chemicals to Berthoud’s water did not find favor with residents attending the meeting.

Trustee Michael Patrick noted algae particulates had been a problem in Berthoud in past years but the addition of SolarBees four years ago seemed to have addressed the problem.

Per the SolarBee Web site, these devices use “patented near laminar radial flow technology that provides high-flow, long-distance circulation in water reservoirs.” Unfortunately, no system is fool proof and environmental changes can generate algae blooms beyond the SolarBees abilities to control.

Esther Vincent with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Colorado-Big Thompson nutrient project said Wednesday she was surprised to hear residents had concerns about algae blooms at Carter Lake. Vincent toured Carter Lake on Wednesday, Aug. 26 but found no algae blooms present.

She proposed the problem may not be coming from Carter Lake but from the holding pond where Berthoud water is stored. Vincent explained water is fed via pipe from Carter Lake into a shallow retention pond, which is the same pond where the SolarBees were installed. Algae blooms are a more prevalent issue in shallow water than at deeper lakes.

For Berthoud residents with concerns about their water, Suiter suggested the contact the Town’s public works staff and request water samples if necessary.

Residents with water discoloration, which sometimes occurs when the water system and hydrants are flushed, can pick up Rover Rust Remover, a sodium bisulphite powder, at Town Hall.

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Tufts University SolarBees® Inafective on Milfoil

SolarBee on Lake Cochituate

SolarBee on Lake Cochituate

Tufts University scientists presented a paper at the NE Aquatic Plant Management Society meeting in Stowe, VT this January titled “Effectiveness of Solar Powered Water Circulators for Reducing Eurasian Milfoil Growth in a Recreational Lake”. They concluded that the SolarBees® had no measureable impact on Eurasian Milfoil populations in the lake.

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Mill Pond Problems May Have Been Caused by Efforts to Prevent Algae

“High levels of phosphorus suspended in the waters of Mill Pond is being blamed for a massive algae bloom that killed thousands of fish, and now the Southampton Town Trustees say water-agitating devices they approved for use may have created the problem. The Trustees stopped short of blaming the die off on the devices, called SolarBees, but said at a meeting on Tuesday that water samples taken by scientists from the US Geological Survey showed a spike in phosphorus last summer. They fear the Solarbees may have stirred up phosphorus that has settled to the lakebottom over may years fueling the immense bloom observed just before the die off.

Trustee Semlear said Solarbees were in the pond in 2007 but were not working properly at that time. They were sucking up weeds and plant material from the bottom of the pond. They were installed again in the spring of 2008.”

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