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Australia Blue-green algae restricts water use for people in Red Cliffs near Mildura

09:36  16 december  2019
09:36  16 december  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Blue - green algae are not algae at all, but types of bacteria called cyanobacteria that are normally present in many lakes. This type of bacteria thrives in Here are some examples of algae blooms. A couple of easy tests can tell you if the green stuff you're seeing in your body of water is likely to be

Blue green algae (cyanobacteria) can build up in fresh or marine water if water temperatures, light conditions and nutrient levels increase and water flows are low, sometimes causing brightly coloured surface scums or ‘blooms’ to form. Some blue green algae produce toxins which can be harmful to

a sign on the side of the road: Blue-green algae is impacting sections of the Murray River. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Kellie Hollingworth)© Provided by ABC Health Blue-green algae is impacting sections of the Murray River. (ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Kellie Hollingworth)

Water use remains restricted for thousands of residents in Victoria's Mallee region after warnings about blue-green algae were issued late last night.

A red alert was declared following blighting on the Murray River near Mildura, covering the stretch between Wentworth and Red Cliffs.

This afternoon, residents in Red Cliffs were told they no longer had to boil their drinking water, but a restriction on outdoor use has been extended to Mildura, Merbein and Irymple to give the town's supplier enough time to build up a stockpile of disinfected water.

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In appropriate conditions, blue - green algae can grow rapidly and form visible blooms, or scums. Blooms are usually somewhere between dark Follow the advice on any nearby signs and keep out of the water until authorities advise the risk has passed. If you come into contact with affected water

Blue - green algal blooms. 'Bloom' is the term used to describe an accumulation of algal cells to a point where they discolour the water , form scums, produce unpleasant tastes and odours, affect fish populations and reduce the water quality. Decomposing algae can also cause depletion of oxygen

"It's a very cautious approach, but we think it's necessary at the moment given the challenges we're having with our water production, and given the hot weather and the challenges we're experiencing, we're struggling to keep up with demand," Lower Murray Water managing director Anthony Couroupis said.

"The ban on outdoor use is all about restoring sufficient volumes in our storages so we can keep up with demand."

With a heatwave forecast to hit the region this week — Mildura is tipped to exceed its December record with 47C on Friday — Lower Murray Water will be monitoring its urban water supply "almost on an hourly basis", Mr Couroupis said.

"We're not of the view that we'll have to issue the same boil-water notice for Mildura, but we're certainly experiencing the same challenges at our Mildura and Mildura West water treatment plants, [which] supply Merbein, Mildura and Irymple townships," he said.

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Water . Blue - Green Algae . If you get sick after swimming in a Wisconsin lake or river, please report possible algae -related illness. This program does not provide medical treatment, so if you are experiencing severe symptoms seek medical attention immediately.

Blue - green algae , technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally However, exposure to any blue - green algae blooms can cause health effects in people and Stop using the water and consider medical attention for people and animals if symptoms such as diarrhea

Blooming out of season

Joanne Farrell, executive officer of the Red Cliffs Community Resource Centre, said the restrictions initially caused some confusion, and that bottled water was "selling out fast" at local shops.

"We're boiling water here and putting it in the fridge for people," she said.

"There's no taste difference or anything like that."

Ms Farrell said the timing of the red alert was unusual for the region.

"We kind of expect it in about March, but this is quite a few months earlier," she said.

"So that's probably the biggest worry in people's minds — that this is so much earlier in the piece."

'Not seen anything like it'

Experts have found both the timing of the outbreak, as well as the type of algae, unexpected.

"This is certainly a new strain for our staff," Mr Couroupis said.

"We've got crews who have been on 24/7 over the past few days trying to work through this … people who have been dealing with blue-green algae for almost 30 years, and they have not seen anything like this."

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There are many species of blue - green algae found in Wisconsin lakes and rivers, but only certain species can produce the algal toxins that cause By the time water quality analysis is done, water conditions may have changed from the time a sample was collected. This is why it is so important to

Blue - green algae are microscopic organisms that can form dense blooms in surface waters . People and animals should avoid blooms because If you are not on a public water supply and are using surface water : Bloom or no bloom, never drink, prepare food, or make ice with untreated surface water .

At time of publication, the Murray River algal bloom was not on Victoria's emergency alert website, although an alert had been published for a bloom at Lake Charlegrark in the state's west.

The situation is being monitored by Water NSW, which said it was unknown how long the bloom would last.

"It looks like it's going to be a long summer for blue-green algae," spokesman Tony Webber said.

"Certainly where the drought is biting in areas across the north, well north of the Murray region, water quality is diminishing and has certainly been in very, very poor quality for the last two years.

"But it remains to be seen what the situation is on the Murray as the summer progresses."

Economic fears

The bloom has also sparked concerns that the Sunraysia region's tourism industry could experience a lull over summer.

Authorities have warned people not to come in contact with the water in the Murray River there, because the algae can cause gastroenteritis, as well as skin and eye irritations.

Daryl Beasy, the owner of the Apex Riverbeach Holiday Park in Mildura, said high levels of algae had the potential to have a massive financial impact.

"Most people come here because of the river and the sandbar," Mr Beasy said.

"They want to swim or ski, and if they can't get in the water, we'll lose lots of bookings.

"If we get any more warm weather, I think it will spread pretty fast and hang around for quite a while until we get cool weather or lots of rain to flush it out."

Mildura Regional Development said it had a well-established action plan to help advise operators on dealing with the algal outbreak, such as providing visitors with information about travel and accommodation options.

Chief executive Brett Millington said visitors could be assured that paddleboat tours, recreational boating, kayaking and jet-skiing could all still be undertaken.

"We are working closely with Lower Murray Water who are monitoring these areas regularly, so that we can keep industry advised where water-skiing and swimming may still be accessible," he said.

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