BLUE GREEN ALGAE LEVELS AT HIGH ALERT
Sampling undertaken this week has indicated that blue-green algae alert levels have increased at Rathluba lagoon to high alert and remain high alert at Telarah Lagoon and at Walka Water Works.
Blue-green algae are microscopic cells that grow naturally in Australian fresh and saline waters. However, when conditions are favourable for algae growth blooms can occur, which can be seen as a thick paint like accumulation on the water’s surface or as small green floating dots. Scums are normally green or blue-green in colour and have a distinctive earthy smell.
Current high temperatures, low dam levels and high nutrient levels encourage the growth of blue-green algae. With these conditions all dams and waterways have the potential to have algal blooms grow overnight and caution should be undertaken entering water bodies.
Council’s Manager Development & Environment David Simm says, ‘Caution should be used at any water body, particularly dams, as algal levels can increase quickly in favourable growing conditions. Once a bloom has developed, there isn’t a great deal authorities can do to reverse the situation except wait for a climatic change.'
‘Council will monitor the lagoons at Walka Water Works, Telarah and Rathluba for blue-green algae growth over summer. Blue-green algae can be a serious environmental and human health problem, with the release of toxins and skin irritants. Domestic pets and livestock should also be prevented from coming into contact with the water’.
Blue-green algae may cause severe stomach upsets, nausea and skin irritation in both people and animals. Blue-green algae may contain toxins. Boiling the water does not remove the toxins produced by the algae. If people believe they or their animals have been affected by blue-green algae they should seek medical attention.
To help reduce the likelihood of a bloom occurring in one of Maitland’s water bodies this summer you should reduce the amount of nutrients going into local waterways by washing your car on the grass or at a car wash, using a broom not a hose to clear up leaves, cleaning out your gutter regularly, and being responsible in the application of fertilisers.
It is important to report suspected blue-green algal blooms in local waterways by emailing RACC@waternsw.com.au with details and any available photos of the suspected bloom. Up to date information on current algal blooms is available by phoning 1800 999 457.