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Warning as Toxic Algae Builds up in Waipoua River

Toxic algae on
rock

7 January 2013

Warning as Toxic Algae Builds up in Waipoua River

The Greater Wellington Regional Council, Masterton District Council and Regional Public Health are urging river users to protect themselves and their dogs from toxic algae, with an increase of algal growth detected in Masterton's Waipoua River this week.

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.

The Regional Council's weekly river monitoring has shown increased coverage of toxic algae at its Colombo Road monitoring site along the Waipoua River, presenting a potential risk to river users. Masterton District Council staff are putting up warning signs along key access points to the river.

Juliet Milne, the Regional Council's Aquatic Ecosystems and Quality Team Leader, says that toxic algae can be abundant in many New Zealand waterways during summer.

"The warm weather in the Wairarapa and the lack of heavy rain in the Waipoua catchment are key factors 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.

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

ENDS

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