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Red alert hits Lakes

Saturday, 6th February, 2021

Red alert bloom conditions for blue-green algae have been recorded at Menindee’s Weir 32, Tolarno, Pooncarie, Burtundy and Ellerslie. Currently Wilcannia and Lake Wetherell are at amber alert indicating blue-green algae may be multiplying in numbers. Copi Hollow and Lake Tandure has safe on green alert where the water is no threat to recreational, stock or domestic use. PICTURE: Water NSW Red alert bloom conditions for blue-green algae have been recorded at Menindee’s Weir 32, Tolarno, Pooncarie, Burtundy and Ellerslie. Currently Wilcannia and Lake Wetherell are at amber alert indicating blue-green algae may be multiplying in numbers. Copi Hollow and Lake Tandure has safe on green alert where the water is no threat to recreational, stock or domestic use. PICTURE: Water NSW

By Myles Burt

A red alert warning for blue-green algae has been issued by Water NSW for the Lower Darling River.

Below Menindee Lakes and downstream to Burtundy, surface scums have been observed indicating a current widespread algal bloom. Water NSW said blue green algal blooms are a nationally occurring phenomenon that mostly culminates from low water storage, hot weather and evaporation intensifying the nutrients in the water. 

A Water NSW spokesperson has said the algal bloom is more inclined to move downstream rather than spread towards Menindee. 

Water NSW said outbreak conditions are low for the Menindee Lakes with capacity at 20 per cent, but conditions are always subject to change over the summer period.

“It’s still quite hot and sunny, they’re good conditions for blue-green algae,” Water NSW said.

“We’re seeing quite extensive outbreaks of blue-green algae in the Murray at the moment, Lower Murray around that Wentworth junction, that’s occurring at a time the Murray is running quite high.

“There are situational scenarios that make it more likely but it doesn’t always fit the formula.”

Water NSW said they’ve increased sampling at all monitoring sites in the area impacted and will report the results as soon as they become available.

Water NSW said a red alert warning indicates that people should not undertake recreational activities where they may be coming into direct contact with the water. 

Contact with the water may also pose a threat to livestock, and pets. 

Water NSW said those with livestock should try and making other drinking arrangements for livestock where possible.

“That’s not always possible in the dry areas of the state, but landholders should give some serious thought to make alternative arrangements while that red alert’s in place,” Water NSW said.

Water NSW said people should not eat mussels or crayfish from red alert warning areas. 

Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. 

Water NSW said most importantly boiling the water does not remove the algae and drinking the water can give you a bad case of gastroenteritis. 

People who believe they may have been affected by blue-green algae are advised to seek medical advice. 

Updates about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be obtained by calling 1800 999 457 or visiting https://bit.ly/3jo0Wwn.

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