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Toxic bloom taking over

Thursday, 23rd April, 2015

Robin Eaton, who lives on the river 3.8km down from Maiden’s Hotel, submitted this shot of the green sludge. Robin Eaton, who lives on the river 3.8km down from Maiden’s Hotel, submitted this shot of the green sludge.

Much of the water left in the Menindee Lakes is contaminated with blue-green algae.

A red alert warning was issued yesterday afternoon after the algae was found just downstream of Menindee, meaning that water being released into the lower Darling from Weir 32 may also be contaminated. 

Sunraysia Regional Algal Coordinating Committee Sunraysia RACC Chairman, Owen Russell, said it was not surprising given that red alerts at three sites at Lake Wetherell had been in place since December and the Menindee Lakes were so depleted. 

High levels of blue green algae have been found in the remnant pools in lakes Cawndilla and Pamamaroo.  

Mr Russell said that a red alert level warning indicates that water is unsuitable for recreational use or primary contact by domestic users.

“The levels of toxic species are relatively low meaning there is generally a low risk to livestock, however landholders are advised to be vigilant and place pumps well below the surface, where concentrations tend to be lower.”

If an alternative supply is available, then this should be used.

“Drinking water should always be taken from a potable supply.” 

Local residents and visitors should avoid any water that appears bright green; where obvious green scum is present; or a distinctive odor is noticeable. 

People are advised not to enter the water, not to drink untreated water or bathe in any drawn from the river while the red alert is in place.

There is also evidence that small quantities of algal toxins may enter fish flesh when a bloom produces toxins.

Any fish caught in water affected by a bloom should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and internal organs disposed of.

People should not eat mussels, crayfish or the internal organs of fish from red alert areas. 

The NSW Office of Water will continue to monitor for blue green algae and warned people to keep away from visible scum and water that has a musty or septic odor.

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