Everything You Must Know About Ballast Water Management

Blog | March 23rd, 2023

The vast volume of water that is present on the Earth makes it habitable, alongside other elements and environmental conditions that other planets do not possess. But given the immense number of elements on the planet, it is not surprising to see tons of organisms living in various aquatic environments.

Some of these organisms, unfortunately, can cause trouble later on as they might invade other aquatic environments. And one way for these organisms to move to another place is through boats and ships that obtain various types of water from different ports.

The Basic Formation of Ballast Water

The stability and manoeuvrability of sailing vessels that do not carry any cargo rely heavily on fresh or saltwater stored in ballast tasks and cargo holds. This water, known as ballast water, can also be maximised by ships to make sure they can survive the rough seas. Weight may likewise be added to the sailing vessels that will be passing under bridges and other structures by maximising ballast water.

This specific water is often pumped into ballast tanks whenever ships have reached a port and delivered some cargo. It is then released at the next port-of-call where ships may pick up another set of cargo. 

Ballast water can be extremely helpful to ships. It can, however, be one of the primary ways for nonindigenous marine species or bioinvaders to reach foreign aquatic environments. Since the water may come from various ports, the properties it may contain can differ. The ballast water may also be comprised of elements that can be harmful to select ports and their surroundings.

Proper Management of Ballast Water 

Ballast water does not only introduce bioinvaders to various locations, but it can also transfer harmful pathogens to the environment. Without managing the ballast water effectively, the harmful marine organisms and pathogens may only damage the coastal regions and bio-diversities that they would touch. They may specifically generate hazards to the environment, property or resources, and human health. They can also impair biological diversity as well as interfere with legitimate uses of areas these organisms have infected.

One way to carry out proper ballast water management is through ballast water exchange. This process involves substituting the water in ballast tanks through various methods. These methods may include sequential, flow-through, or dilution methods. 

·         Sequential: The sequential method involves emptying the ballast water tank and refilling it with replacement ballast water, achieving at least a 95% volumetric exchange. When conducting this method, those in charge should confirm that the ballast water in the tank is being discharged until the pump suction is lost. 

·         Flow-through: This method, alternatively, is done by pumping replacement ballast water into a ballast tank so that the water may flow through overflow or other arrangements. This method must achieve at least 95% volumetric exchange of ballast water.

·         Dilution: The dilution method, ultimately, is conducted by filling replacement water through the top of the ballast tank while simultaneously discharging some from the bottom at a similar flow rate. The water being pumped into the tank should be three times its volume.

Some ballast water treatment systems can, fortunately, be used to avoid the effects of ballast water. They often introduce an inert gas into the tank to suffocate the harmful organisms. Heating the ballast water may also be done by other systems.

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