Blue-green algae outbreak in Berwick waterways prompts warning

Toxic blue-green algae blooms have been detected in the Greaves Rd retarding basin and the wetlands at Berwick Springs and Beaumont Waters estates, in Berwick.

Melbourne Water has issued a warning for residents to avoid contact with both wetlands after the discovery.

The microscopic bacteria causes a deterioration in water quality and produces toxins, which have been linked to fatalities of livestock, wildlife and pets.

Melbourne Water waterways manager southeast region, Greg Bain, confirmed the algae discovered in the wetlands between Greaves and Glasscocks roads was of the variety that could be harmful to animals and humans.

“People should avoid contact with the water and make sure that it does not come into contact with their skin or eyes,” Mr Bain said.

“Pet owners are advised to take similar precautions and keep their animals from entering the water or from drinking it.”

Mr Bain said people should avoid eating fish from the retarding basin during the outbreak and for three weeks after the bloom had cleared.

He said signs had been erected around the lake to warn people of the potential hazards, and Melbourne Water would work with the council to manage and monitor the algae bloom.

“We will be sampling the water regularly and keeping a close watch on the problem,” he said.

Blue-green algae occurs naturally in waterways and erupts into blooms during hot weather, periods of drought, or where there is an accumulation of nutrients.


  • Blue-green algae are a type of microscopic, algae-like bacteria which inhabit freshwater, coastal and marine waters
  • Blue-green algae can reproduce quickly in favourable conditions where there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients
  • The main effects of blue-green algae blooms are deterioration of water quality and production of toxins by some species.
  • Exposure to algal toxins has been linked to fatalities of livestock, wildlife and pets
  • Decaying algae can reduce dissolved oxygen levels in the water column, which can severely degrade aquatic ecosystems and lead to the death of aquatic organisms


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