Blue-green algae stretches 1630km along Murray River

[Australia] The Murray River along the length of the Victoria-NSW border is now consumed by blue-green algae after Swan Hill fell to the bloom late last week.

All 1630km of the river from above Lake Hume to past Wentworth, just 33km from the South Australian border, is now subject to red and amber alerts.

Victoria’s blue-green algae incident controller Steve Grant said the bloom could soon be the worst recorded.

“Already it is the second-worst and it only has to get to May 10 to be the worst,” Mr Grant said.

The 2010 river bloom cost regional and state economies hundreds of millions of dollars and hit tourism hardest.

Mr Grant said river temperatures were slowing falling while algal counts were dropping in some areas, but still rising in others.

“I am told the best chance we have is for two consecutive frosts,” he said. “It has been incredibly warm and dry.”

Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water has been juggling three key pumps on the Murray near Swan Hill that supply the southern and northern Wimmera Mallee pipeline.

The Pental Island pumps were switched off for several days last week and turned back on again on Sunday.

The Nyah pump was turned off on Saturday and the Piangil pump has been used to supply both Piangil and Nyah systems.

With algal counts rising again, the water authority shut both pumps on Monday.

Storages in northern Mallee towns have been isolated to continue to meet urban demands.

It comes as a rescue mission to supply water to drought-stricken Lorne began yesterday, with tankers bringing water from Winchelsea.

Barwon Water has been forced into extreme measures after Lorne’s Allen Reservoir fell to a third of its capacity, and stage three restrictions due to begin in Colac, Lorne and Apollo Bay on Sunday.

 

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