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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Blue-green algae red alert at Bray Park Weir

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The treatment process used at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant. Photo Tweed Shire Council

Tweed Shire Council says treated water from its mains supply remains safe to drink despite a red alert for blue-green algae being issued for the raw water in Bray Park Weir.

Water and wastewater manager Anthony Burnham said, ‘Council draws water from the weir for treatment at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant before it is distributed to our water customers,’ adding ‘treated water from the mains supply remains perfectly safe to drink.’

‘The treatment process used at the Bray Park Plant removes the potential toxins in the raw water, together with taste and odour compounds, making the treated water perfectly safe for consumption.’

The raw water, however, is not safe to drink and is potentially harmful to people, pets and stock.

The red alert was issued by Water NSW today.

In its media release, Water NSW advises that the ‘algae result for this Bray Park Weir may be representative of water holes of the Tweed and Oxley Rivers and upstream of the weir. Therefore, water users in these areas should apply a high level of caution and consider alternate water supplies for stock and domestic purposes’.

Farmers pumping from the river should be extra careful to ensure they are not drawing affected water, Mr Burnham said.

The species of blue-green algae identified in the weir is potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact.

‘Boiling the water will not remove the algal toxins,’ Mr Burnham said.

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.

‘Currently the flows in the Tweed River are low even though we are releasing from Clarrie Hall Dam to maintain flow and supply at the weir.’

Mr Burnham told Echonetdaily that extra releases from the dam to flush out the algae had been tried in the past, without much success.

‘You can waste a lot of water very quickly that way,’ he said.

Council has since invested in more sophisticated water processing units to clean the water of algae, he added.

‘Council will continue to monitor the situation and test the water daily to ensure we treat the Shire’s drinking water appropriately for the conditions, Mr Burnham said.

‘Our water laboratory has scientists who lead the field in identifying and testing blue-green algae so we can assure our customers that they are in safe hands when it comes to our drinking water.’

Affected water appears to have a green paint-like scum on the water, near the edges, or greenish clumps throughout the water.

‘Please don’t swim, shower or wash in dirty, green or discoloured water,’ Mr Burnham said. ‘You should also not eat fish or crayfish from affected water.’

Anyone who thinks they may have contacted blue-green algal water are advised to seek medical advice.

Warning signs have been placed at key recreational areas and will remain in place while high levels of blue-green algae are present.

 


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