People and animals are advised to avoid swimming in the Williams River at Clarence Town with blue green algae levels at red alert.
Dungog Shire Council’s Manager of Environmental Services, Paul Minett, said testing in the week before and after New Year’s indicated high levels of blue-green algae in the Williams River adjacent to the Clarence Town caravan park and Bridge Reserve.
‘The red alert level means that algae numbers are in the high range and are a potential health risk to people and animals,” said Mr Minett.
“Blue-green algae can be a serious environmental and human health problem with the release of toxins and skin irritants.
“Anyone visiting the Williams River at Clarence Town in the vicinity of Bridge Reserve should avoid contact with the water whilst the bloom remains.
“Domestic pets and livestock should also be prevented from coming into contact with the water”.
Blue-green algae are microscopic cells that grow naturally in Australian fresh and saline waters. However, when conditions are favourable for algae growth blooms can occur, which can be seen as a thick paint-like accumulation on the water’s surface or as small green floating dots.
Along with the warming temperatures, high nutrient levels, slow flow and low wind also encourage the growth of blue-green algae.
Blue-green algae may cause severe stomach upsets, nausea and skin irritation in both people and animals following contact. It may contain toxins which cannot be removed by boiling the water.
Hunter New England Health advises people who believe they may have been affected by the algae to seek medical treatment. Signage has been placed at all tested sites, but landholders, community and recreational fishers are reminded that algae can be present in any water body and you should not eat anything caught in waters affected by algal blooms.
Suspected blue-green algal blooms in local waterways may be reported by calling 131 555. Up to date information is available by phoning 1800 999 457 or visiting water.nsw.gov.au.
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