A red alert level for Lake Ainsworth remains in place for the third week in a row. Testing by Ballina Shire Council’s environmental health officers today (Tuesday January 29) indicates the level of blue-green algae remains dangerous, so the lake will remain closed for at least another week.
While the red alert is in place Council recommends no swimming or other primary recreational activities at the Lake.
Environmental health officer Rachael Jenner told Echonetdaily, ‘I tested again today and based on my visual observation there is little if any reduction in algae and scum since we our previous test last Monday.
‘The dominant species currently in the Lake is microcystis, which is potentially toxic. There are also extensive slicks and scums present. The public are advised to not use the Lake for primary recreation until further notice,’ said.
The species of blue-green algae identified are potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. People who believe they may have been affected by blue-green algae are advised to seek medical advice.
Warning signs at key recreational areas were erected on January 16 and will remain in place while high levels of blue-green algae are present.
Blue-green algae occur naturally and can reproduce quickly in favourable conditions where there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients.
Reopening of the Lake
Ballina Council said it is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels but monitoring is continuing and the alert will be lifted as soon as the high levels of algae dissipate.
Under the WaterNSW Guidelines a red alert can only be lifted when two consecutive results are below red alert and have been recorded a week apart. Slicks and scums must also not be present for the red alert to be lifted.
The algae status of Lake Ainsworth is updated weekly on Council’s website ballina.nsw.gov.au
Updates about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be obtained by calling NSW Water on 1800 999 457 or visiting waternsw.com.au/water-quality/algae.