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Health Warning Update Cyanobacteria Bloom

Health Warning Update Cyanobacteria Bloom – Eastern Bay of Plenty

Environment Bay of Plenty has carried out daily surveys of the waterways in the Eastern Bay of Plenty following the recent discovery of toxic cyanobacteria on the Rangitaiki, Waimana, and Whakatane rivers.

Rangitaiki / Waimana Rivers
The Medical Officer of Health has extended the health warning advising against recreational use of the Rangitaiki River from Murupara to the river mouth at Thornton following the identification of potentially toxic cyanobacteria in the Galatea area. The health warning for the Waimana River from Te Urewera National Park to Taneatua remains in place.

Until further notice, people are advised not to paddle, wade, swim, or participate in any recreational activity that might involve significant contact with the cyanobacteria mats or swallowing of raw river water. The health warning also includes people keeping their pets (e.g. dogs) and livestock out of the river. Although initial testing has not yet shown significant levels of free toxin in flowing water (i.e. toxin released by the mats), the use of untreated water for drinking (people and animals) is not recommended (further tests are being conducted).

Whakatane River
Small areas of cyanobacterial mats have been found in the Whakatane River and the public are advised to exercise caution when using the river for recreational activity and to avoid direct contact with the dark brown/black or golden-brown cyanobacteria mats that develop in shallow areas of the river, particularly along the riverbanks.

Whakatane District Council will place warning signs at places where people would usually have access to the rivers.

Anyone suffering illness after contact with the Rangitaiki and Waimana River should seek medical assistance. Any illness in pets or livestock after contact with the river should be reported to the Medical Officer of Health.

The Whakatane District Council has consulted with the Medical Officer of Health and taken appropriate steps to manage the minimal potential risk that relates to the town’s treated drinking water supply. The Council has increased monitoring and introduced additional treatment as a precautionary measure.

Environment Bay of Plenty, Whakatane District Council, and Toi Te Ora – Public Health will be monitoring the situation and have placed information on toxic cyanobacteria on their websites. Toi Te Ora - Public Health will update the public when results from further tests are available.

Cyanobacterial mats vary from dark brown/black and are moss like in appearance, thickness and colour (black to dark green) but have a much slimier texture and glisten when exposed to air. In shallow areas the mats may appear bleached and take on a golden brown colour. The mats are easily dislodged from the riverbed and form floating ‘rafts’.

ENDS

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