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WARNING: Blue-green algae high alert for Rathluba Lagoon


Recent sampling of water at Rathluba Lagoon in East Maitland has revealed the presence of a high concentration of blue-green algae, resulting in a red alert being issued for the site.

Warm temperatures, low dam levels and high nutrients are said to responsible for the growth.

Blue-green algae are microscopic cells that occur naturally but can bloom when conditions are favourable.

Blooms appear as thick paint-like accumulation on the water’s surface or as small green floating dots and have a distinctive earthy smell.

Maitland City Council manager environment and sustainability Catherine Pepper says a red alert means ‘that algae numbers are high, and a potential health risk to people and animals.’

“Blue-green algae can be a serious environmental and human health problem, with the release of toxins and skin irritants,” she said.

“Anyone visiting Rathluba Lagoon should avoid contact with the water while the bloom remains.

“Domestic pets and livestock should also be prevented from coming into contact with this water body.”

Blue-green algae may cause severe stomach upsets, nausea and skin irritation in both people and animals following contact.

The toxins cannot be removed by boiling the water.

People who believe they may have been affected by the algae are advised to seek medical treatment.

Rathluba Lagoon is located off Lochend circuit in East Maitland.

The complex features a children’s playground, walking tracks, bookable sporting fields, an off-leash dog exercise area, as well as a horse exercise yard, all set around the lagoon.

Similar alerts have been issued for both Rathluba and Telarah Lagoons in February 2021, December 2019 and February 2019.

Report suspected blue-green algal blooms in local waterways by emailing [email protected] with details and any available photos of the suspected bloom.

Find more information on blue-green algae blooms go to the Maitland City Council website.

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