Toxic algae risk increases in Wairarapa

http://www.gw.govt.nz/toxic-algae-risk-increases-in-wairarapa

Toxic algae risk increases in Wairarapa

Toxic algae coverage and it associated risks is again high at the popular picnicking spot at Kokotau Bridge on the Ruamahanga River.

Greater Wellington Regional Council, Carterton District Council and Wairarapa Population Health are urging river users, particularly those with dogs, to avoid this part of the river. Warning signs have been put up along key river access points in the area.

The risk at other river sites monitored in the Wairarapa, including the Waipoua River, is currently low but this could change rapidly as the hot, dry weather continues. Toxic algae may also be growing in rivers not monitored by the regional council.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Senior Environmental Scientist, Summer Greenfield, says

“The regional council monitors for toxic algae at popular swimming spots from Double Bridges (north of Masterton) to Martinborough on the Ruamahanga River and at sites on the Waipoua, Waingawa and Waiohine rivers.

“Kokotau is currently the only site out of the 13 monitored in the Wairarapa that has a high risk from toxic algae, but it could be present in other rivers that we don’t monitor. People need to be aware of what toxic algae looks like so they can avoid it where ever it may be.”

Toxic algae close up

A close up of toxic algae on a rock

Toxic algae – or cyanobacteria – form brown or black clumps on river beds and can kill livestock and dogs. The clumps can peel off and often wash up on the river’s edge where dogs can easily come into contact with them. If your dog eats toxic algae, it can die very quickly. Contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritations and other allergy-type symptoms in humans.

Mrs Greenfield, says that toxic algae can be abundant in many New Zealand waterways during summer.

“The warm weather in the Wairarapa is a key factor behind the increase. The risk to river users and dogs is likely to remain until there’s significant rainfall to flush the algae away.”

For current warnings on the toxic algae risk at popular rivers around the region, and for photos that show you what toxic algae looks like, visit the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s website:  www.gw.govt.nz/toxic-algae.

KEEP YOU AND YOUR DOG SAFE FROM TOXIC ALGAE THIS SUMMER: 

  • HOW TO SPOT TOXIC ALGAE – Toxic algae form brown or black clumps at the river’s edge or in parts of the river where rocks are exposed or it’s shallow
  • IF YOU SEE A TOXIC ALGAE WARNING SIGN OR THINK YOU SEE TOXIC ALGAE – Avoid touching and swimming near the algae. Put your dog on a lead and move away from the river’s edge
  • IF YOU THINK YOUR DOG HAS EATEN TOXIC ALGAE – Take your dog to a vet immediately
  • IF YOU’VE BEEN TO A RIVER AND THINK YOU’RE HAVING A REACTION TO TOXIC ALGAE – Contact your GP

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For more information, please call Greater Wellington's Communications team on 021 914 266 or email us.

Toxic algae close up

A close up of toxic algae on a rock

Medical Officer of Health, Regional Public Health: 04 570 9002, 04 570 9007 (after-hours): healthprotection@huttvalleydhb.org.nz
 

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