Red alert for blue-green algae at Murwillumbah weir

A Red Alert for potentially toxic blue-green algae at the Bray Park Weir in Murwillumbah was issued yesterday, with a warning for locals not to come into contact with the water there.

The North Coast Regional Algal Coordinating Committee alert means a high health risk is posed by the current state of the water in the weir, which is part of the town’s drinking-water catchment.

Tweed Shire Council’s engineering director David Oxenham said the blue-green algaes was likely to become more prevalent as dry and warm conditions continue.

The Red Alert level warning indicates the blue-green algae levels in the water present a health risk. The water is unsuitable for recreational use or primary contact by domestic users and may also pose a threat to livestock.

People are advised not to enter the water, not to drink untreated water or bathe in water drawn from the effected river area while this red alert level warning is in place.

The water is unsuitable for stock watering and may result in death of livestock.

‘Livestock owners are reminded to continue to check stock water supplies for blue-green algae and to remove stock from foreshores where surface scum is visible or blue-green algae are suspected,’ Mr Oxenham said.

Water with a high presence of blue-green algae is likely to have a green tinge and a musty or organic odour.

People should not eat mussels or crayfish from red alert level warning areas. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption.

‘Council has altered its treatment processes to effectively remove the blue-green algae in the drinking water supply, meaning the treated town water supply is safe for human consumption. Council will continue to regularly sample and test the water,’ he said.

‘Warning signs have been erected at this location due to the high risk to recreational use, including fishing and swimming which could lead to primary contact with the water,’ Mr Oxenham said.

‘However, the community should be on the look-out for algal blooms when swimming in any of our waterways during this extended dry period.’

If water is ingested or individuals come in contact with the water at red alert levels there is risk to health and it is advised to seek medical attention. Children and people with pre-existing health problems are most at risk. People might also experience diarrhoea and skin irritations.

Information updates about blue-green algae blooms and red alert level warning areas can be obtained from the Regional Algal Coordinating Committee freecall Algal Information Hotline on 1800 999 457.

Bray Park Weir is a man-made tidal barrier that prevents salt water from intruding into the fresh water supply. Once the water reaches Bray Park Weir, it is extracted and treated at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant.



Photo: The Bray Park weir. Photo Tweed Shire Council

View original article at: Red alert for blue-green algae at Murwillumbah weir

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