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Company looks to clean waterways

THE commercialisation of a water purification technology by Perth-based Water Sciences International (WSI) could have a major impact on the Swan River amid other, wide-ranging applications. The company, which aims to list on the Australian Stock Exchange on May 20, believes its CRyptoBlast technology, developed at the Australian National University with the help of Sydney Water Corporation, could be used at sources of effluent that are currently polluting the Swan, in order to prevent toxic algal blooms and other parasitic organisms poisoning the river. WSI’s objective is to use funds raised from the public float in order to acquire 100 per cent of the technology from the Sydney Water Corporation. According to WSI, tests have shown that CRyptoBlast, which is a non-soluble granular powder derived from alumina, attracts parasites’ infective agents and destroys the contagious contents of the cells, acting like a filter. WSI managing director Stuart Gunzberg said the technology was in its early stages, but had been used for many years as the main ingredient in popular antacid Mylanta, and therefore should not require extensive regulatory approval. He said CRyptoBlast was developed in response to Sydney’s cryptosporidium water crisis in 1998, during which Sydney households were forced to boil their water before drinking. Preliminary tests indicate that 800 kilograms of the compound could treat the volume of water in an Olympic-sized pool for six months, costing $400. But swimming pools are just one application of the technology, Mr Gunzberg said. He said a major outcome of the commercialisation could enable the company to help clean up the Swan River, which has become a recent source of contention between environmental groups and the State Government in the wake of rising toxicity levels. “Sewerage disposal into the river is just shocking, and we would hope to minimise this pollution by the use of our technology,” Mr Gunzberg said. According to the Swan River Trust, contamination of the Swan has been compounded by the overuse of fertilisers, which wash into the river system via storm water drains, causing algal blooms that starve the river of oxygen. But Mr Gunzberg said CRyptoBlast has been shown to absorb inorganic compounds such as phosphates and arsenic, which were killing plant and animal life in the river. The trust said that the Swan has been heavily polluted in recent times, with significant amounts of raw sewage spilling into the Swan River catchment area since 2001. However, legislation currently before State Parliament would, if passed, give the trust powers to police the use of fertiliser by landowners in the Swan River catchment area. Mr Gunzberg said another possible application for CRyptoBlast was in the treatment of animal feed, also a source of the cryptosporidium phytoplankton in the river, according to experts. “The bug itself is very resistant and it gets into our river systems and pollutes our waterways through animal effluent,” Mr Gunzberg told WA Business News.

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