Photograph 1. Bryozoa on a sprinkler filter (photo courtesy of Paul Latshaw)
Recently, new reports have surfaced that bryozoans are causing disruptions with wastewater treatment facilities in the United States(1). We do not know how widespread the problem is, if at all, but the potential exists for filter clogging with effluent or wastewater.
The photos show a sprinkler head filter clogged with a Bryozoan. A single individual can start a colony by re-producing asexually (budding), resulting in a large colony. Bryozoans are often confused with seaweed, algae, and most frequently with moss (The Greek word “Bryon” means “moss”). The control of bryozoans is not known, because so little is known of this microscopic creature. It is reported that small amounts of copper are toxic to them.
References 1. Kraepelin, K., 1886. Die Fauna der Hamburger Wasserleitung. Abh. Naturwiss. Vereins. Hamburg 9(1): 1–15.
2. Wood, T.S. and T.G. March. Biofouling of wastewater treatment plants by the freshwater bryozoans, Plumatella vaihiriae. Water Research 33(3): 609-614.