High levels of Blue-Green Algae detected in the Murray Valley Irrigation Area including Torgannah Lagoon

Wednesday 3 March, 2010

Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) is advising water users in the Murray Valley Irrigation Area to avoid contact with water and seek alternative supplies for domestic and stock purposes after identifying the presence of high levels of blue-green algae.

G-MW Manager Murray Valley Operations Jeff Parry said high levels of blue green algae have been identified in Murray Valley irrigation channels including Torgannah Lagoon. The Murray Valley Irrigation Area runs from Yarrawonga to Nathalia and from Cobram to Numurkah.

“Blue-green algae can be dangerous to humans and animals. Characteristic signs of algae contact are skin rashes or itchiness; sore eyes, ears and nose; or, if swallowed, gastroenteritis, nausea or vomiting.

Water users who come into contact with affected channel water should wash affected skin immediately in clean water,” Mr Parry said.

Blue-green algae may be invisible to the naked eye. However, if they are present in large enough numbers, there may be a scum or slick on the water surface. Musty or earthy odours may also be present. In windy conditions, the scum can accumulate in backwaters or protected areas.

Water from systems exhibiting signs of algae should not be used for cooking, drinking, washing, stock watering or for pets. Boiling the affected water will not make it safe to use.

Affected water may still be used for pasture irrigation however stock should be kept away from recently irrigated areas. The water can also be used on gardens, however washing the edible parts of the plant with non-affected water prior to processing or cooking can not be relied upon to totally remove surface toxins.

Water users are advised to remain vigilant and monitor their supplies for signs of blue green algae. Suspected blooms can be reported to your local G-MW office or telephone 03 5833 5785.

“G-MW is continuing to monitor the area closely and will advise the public and water users of any changes in the algae alert status.”

Water users are reminded that all water supplied by G-MW is unfit for any use involving human consumption, directly or indirectly, without first being properly treated.

For further information, please visit the G-MW website, www.g-mwater.com.au/blue-green-algae-alerts, and for current alert status ring the blue-green algae hotline on phone 03 5833 5785.

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Media Contact: Sheree Fitzgerald

Position: Corporate Communications Adviser

Telephone: 03 5833 5754