Blue-green algae forces Barwon River closure

March 1, 2024 BY

Blue-green algae has been detected on a stretch of the Barwon River in Geelong. Photo: CORANGAMITE CMA

A BLUE-green algae outbreak has forced the temporary closure of the Barwon River in Geelong today (Friday, March 1).

The Corangamite CMA announced earlier today that warning signs had been placed along affected stretches of the waterway to notify the public.

The authority stated a combination of hot weather, low water flows and high nutrient levels in the Barwon River had contributed to the outbreak.

Testing on Wednesday last week showed that high levels of toxic blue green algae had been found in two sampling locations.

During algal outbreaks, people and their pets should avoid contact with the water.

The Corangamite CMA strongly advises users of the river to not come into physical contact with the water, due to the potential health risk posed by blue-green algae.

Contact with blue-green algae can cause skin rashes, eye and ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, sore throat and asthma symptoms.

Corangamite CMA advise that people should avoid eating shellfish or fish caught in contaminated water.

The Corangamite CMA will notify the public as soon as conditions change, and the river is safe to be reopened to the public.

“The safety of the public is the authority’s number one priority,” the authority stated.

Anyone experiencing a reaction should seek medical help.

Blue-green algae blooms can be seen with the naked eye across the water surface.

However, blue-green algae toxins are colourless and odourless and can remain at dangerous levels in water even after the blooms have disappeared.

For more information or to report a suspected blue-green algae outbreak, phone the Corangamite CMA on 1800 002 262 or head to ccma.vic.gov.au

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