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Toxic outbreak in Lakes

Saturday, 5th December, 2015

Potentially toxic algal blooms have broken out in parts of the Menindee Lakes system, sparking warnings for people not to enter or drink the water.

The Sunraysia Regional Algal Coordinating Committee yesterday issued a Red Alert warning for blue green algae in lakes Wetherell and Tandure.

A bulletin issued by the NSW government said the species was potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed, and skin and eye irritations after contact.

The outbreak, the first this season, could also pose a threat to livestock and domestic animals and boiling the water does not neutralise the toxins.

Hotter weather and the lack of any substantial inflows into the system have created ideal conditions for outbreaks which were prevalent in the lakes last summer.

“Local residents and visitors should avoid any water that appears bright green, where obvious green scums are present, or a distinctive odour is noticeable,” the bulletin said.

The algae appear as clumps or specks in the water and are often associated with a strong musty or earthy odour.

People are advised not to enter or drink untreated water, or bathe in water drawn from the river whilst the warning is in place.

Livestock owners should continue to check stock water supplies and remove stock from foreshores where surface scums are visible or blue green algae are suspected.

Fish caught should not be eaten and people should not eat mussels, crayfish or the internal organs of fish from Red Alert areas.

The bulletin said town water supply to Broken Hill and Menindee, and the planned reverse osmosis facility was not affected by the outbreak and water remains safe to use.

Information updates about blue-green algae blooms and Red Alert areas can be obtained from the Regional Algal Coordinating Committee free call Algal Information Hotline on 1800 999 457 or visit www.water.nsw.gov.au

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