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Toxic algae alert for the Waiau River at Tuatapere – Environment Southland

Environment Southland’s latest monitoring has found high levels of potentially toxic algae in the Waiau River at Tuatapere.

This alert is in addition to warnings already in place for the Mataura River at Gore and the Ōreti River at Branxholme.

Water users should be vigilant and avoid contact with water and the algae, and swimming in the Waiau River at Tuatapere should be avoided.

Similar growth may be occurring in other rivers and tributaries, so waterway users are advised to also be vigilant across Murihiku-Southland.

Algae occur naturally in waterways and can flourish during fine conditions and periods of stable river flows. Most algae are harmless, however, some cyanobacteria can produce toxins and rapidly bloom to high levels.

These algae are potentially toxic and can be commonly identified in waterways as a dark green/brown slime on rocks, or dark brown/black mats at the water’s edge.

The toxins these algae can produce are harmful to people and animals if swallowed, or through contact with skin.

People should keep dogs on a lead and children away from affected waterways.

The public is urged to be mindful of the potential health risks waterways with toxic algae alerts may pose, until health warnings are removed.

If you experience health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit a doctor immediately. If you are concerned that any animals have consumed toxic algae or contaminated water, they should be taken to a vet immediately.

The public are urged to avoid eating fish caught in water with toxic algal blooms, and if they are consumed, they should only be eaten occasionally – less than one meal per week.

If you, your friends or whānau feel unwell after eating fish, seek medical advice immediately.

For fishers in the areas with toxic algae alerts, it is also recommended you wear clothing such as waders to minimise contact with the water.

The use of hand sanitiser may not remove all the toxin from the skin, so clean, running water is best for washing hands and skin.

Environment Southland monitors toxic algae monthly at a number of rivers and lakes across Murihiku-Southland.


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