Blue-green algae Red Alert for Lake Ainsworth Lennox Head

Blue-green algae Red Alert for Lake Ainsworth Lennox Head

17 January 2020

A recreational red alert warning (high alert) for blue-green algae has been issued for Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head, north of Ballina. Sampling by Ballina Shire Council has shown high levels of Microcystis aeruginosa and genetic testing has revealed it has potential to produce toxins.

Warning signs have been installed and Ballina Shire Council will alert residents and visitors via their website, social media and tourism contacts. This alert does not affect local drinking water supplies, which remain safe to drink.

A red alert level warning indicates that people should not undertake recreational activities where they may come into direct contact with the water, such as swimming, watercraft activities or any other water-based activities. People are advised not to enter the water, swim or bathe in water, or drink untreated water while this red alert level warning is in place.

Contact with Microcystis aeruginosa can cause skin, eye and throat irritation and liver toxicity.

People should not eat mussels or crayfish from red alert level warning areas. It is also highly recommended to avoid any kind of fishing. If fish are going to be consumed, any caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of appropriately.

Blue-green algae usually appear as green paint-like scums on the water, near the edges, or as greenish clumps throughout the water. It makes the water appear dirty, green or discoloured and generally has a strong musty or earthy odour.

Blue-green algae occur naturally and can reproduce quickly in favourable conditions where there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients.

It is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels.

Regular monitoring by Ballina Shire Council will continue, and the alert will be lifted as soon as the high levels of algae dissipate.

People who believe they may have been affected by blue-green algae are advised to seek medical advice.

Updates about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be obtained by visiting our algae webpage or calling 1800 999 457.

Media Contact – Tony Webber – 0428 613 478

General Enquiries – Hannah Took – 02 6684 2024

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