Red alert issued for harmful algae at Telarah Lagoon
Blue green algae are microscopic cells that grow naturally in fresh and saline waters. When conditions are favourable for algae growth (such as slow flow, low wind, high nutrient levels and temperatures) , blooms appear as green discolouration of the water, accumulation on the surface and around the water’s edge, as well as producing a strong, earthy smell.
Maitland City Council Manager Environment and Sustainability Catherine Pepper says a red alert means ‘that algae numbers are high, and a potential health risk to people and animals.’
‘Blue green algae can be a serious environmental and human health problem, with the release of toxins and skin irritants,’ she said.
‘Anyone visiting Telarah Lagoon should avoid contact with the water while the bloom remains. Domestic pets and livestock should also be prevented from coming into contact with this water body.’
Blue green algae may cause severe stomach upsets, nausea and skin irritation in both people and animals following contact. The toxins cannot be removed by boiling the water. People who believe they may have been affected by the algae are advised to seek medical treatment.
The recent flooding is a contributing factor to this occurrence, due to the amount of sediment and nutrients washed into the system.
Alert levels in the Maitland area are available on Council's website at maitland.nsw.gov.au/alerts.
Find more information on blue green algae blooms at maitland.nsw.gov.au/my-neighbourhood/environmentalhealth/