Blue-green algae Red Alert for Burrendong Dam storage

Blue-green algae Red Alert for Burrendong Dam storage

12 May 2022

A Red Alert warning (high alert) for blue-green algae has been issued for Burrendong Dam located 30 kilometres south-east of Wellington in the Central West region.

A Red Alert level indicates that people should not undertake recreational activities where they may come into direct contact with the water such as swimming, as well as domestic uses including showering and washing. Contact with the water may also pose a threat to livestock and pets.

The species of blue-green algae identified are potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. Boiling the water does not remove algal toxins. Water users downstream of the storage should visually monitor water supplies for algae scums.

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

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.

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.

People should not eat mussels or crayfish from Red Alert warning areas. A precautionary approach should be applied to fishing during bloom events. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. Fish fillet meals from algal bloom affected areas should be limited to 1-2 servings per week. Avoiding fishing in a bloom location is the best way to minimise risk, particularly catching and eating fish from locations with severe blooms that last extended periods of time

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 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.

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Tuesday 17 May