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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Toxic algae keeps Lake Ainsworth closed

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Warning signs have been placed around Lake Ainsworth. (supplied)

Ballina Shire Council has warned people not to swim in Lake Ainsworth despite some media reports that the blue-green algae had disappeared.

The council erected warning signs earlier this week after an outbreak of the toxic algae, but some reports suggested it had cleared.

The council’s environment officer Rachael Jenner said just because you cannot see blue green algae doesn’t mean that it’s not present.

‘We are still at Red Alert,’ Ms Jenner said.

She said the council would not declare the lake safe for swimming until two consecutive tests showed that the lake was clear.

She also said the council had engaged a consultant to review the council’s coastal management plan to investigate what the key issues were that were causing the outbreak of algae, and ways to fix it.

The consultant however is not due to report back until August next year.

Meanwhile, NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord and Shadow Minister for Sport Lynda Voltz have called on the state government to do more.

Mr Secord said the government had an obligation to find out the source of nutrients that were causing the outbreaks, while Ms Voltz said she was worried about children and athletes that use the Sport and Recreation Camp at the lake.

Mr Secord moved a motion expressing deep concern about the outbreak and calling on the Berejiklian Government to provide assistance to Ballina Shire Council.

He said the blue-green algae may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. They can also be deadly for pets.

Blue-green algae usually appear as green paint-like scums on the water, near the edges, or as greenish clumps throughout the water. It makes the water appear dirty, green or discoloured and generally has a strong musty or earthy odour.  Blue-green algae can reproduce quickly where there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients.


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