startup nation

Israel water tech faces algal bloom challenge


Water is the essence of life. Increasingly, Israel is the essence of innovation.

It’s only natural, then, that a scientist and entrepreneur from the “Startup Nation” is pioneering a solution for the growing worldwide problem of harmful algal blooms.

When it comes to Israel’s global leadership in water technology, we’ve mostly read about desalinization and drip irrigation. But the next water-related challenge that’s thirsting for Israeli ingenuity is algal bloom — a dangerous infestation of harmful algae affecting the surface of fresh water bodies such as lakes, ponds and rivers. It also affects saltwater bodies. The phenomenon is particularly acute in the United States, China, Brazil and India, but it knows no borders.

The microorganism blocks sunlight and oxygen, causing loss of aquatic plants and fish. The algae are also toxic to humans, limiting precious water for drinking, irrigation and recreation, as the toxic scourge can cause cancer and purportedly Alzheimer’s disease. In the American Midwest and other regions, algal bloom has caused water-treatment plants to close. More than 700 square miles of Lake Erie were covered by algal bloom in 2017. 

A young Israeli microbiologist, Dr. Moshe Harel, who earned his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has developed a treatment that is revolutionizing the approach to algal bloom. His startup, BlueGreen Water Technologies, has produced a technology called Lake Guard, which has secured the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the prestigious NSF60 standard for drinking water. It floats on the water, kills the cyanobacteria in the top layer of the water and dissipates into the environment. Depending on the size of the body of water and extent of the problem, the water is again ready for use in just a few days.

The product has been used in Israel since 2018. BlueGreen Water’s products are now available in the United States, in addition to China, Russia, South Africa and other countries. So far, it has only been tested in freshwater bodies, but Harel plans a pilot to treat saltwater bodies soon.

Israel, once again, to the rescue.