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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Blue-green algae at Clarrie Hall Dam

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Clarrie Hall Dam is the Tweed’s main water storage facility. Council is seeking community feedback on its draft Water Release Policy, with an information session to be held in Murwillumbah on 10 August.

Low levels of blue-green algae has been detected at Clarrie Hall Dam, Tweed’s main facility for water storage. A green alert has been issued for the dam due to this, and visitors are being warned not to eat fish caught at the dam or carry out recreational activities at the site. However, tap water from the dam remains safe to drink and bathe in.

The green alert means that the algae is present in low amounts in the dam, said council’s  Water and Wastewater operations manager, Brie Jowett.

‘The NATA-accredited Tweed Laboratory Centre has found evidence in the dam of the algal species which is capable of producing toxin,’ Mrs Jowett said.

‘Council’s water treatment processes are very robust – we remove blue-green algae from the water when blooms occur, so our tap water remains perfectly safe to drink and bathe in.’

Blue-green algae occurs naturally and can reproduce quickly in still or slow-flowing water when it is warm and sunny, and the water is nutrient-rich.

Affected dam water may appear to have a green, paint-like scum on the water, near the edges, or greenish clumps throughout the water. It can also have a musty odour.

Contact with high amounts of the algae can result in symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, irritation of the eyes or throat, breathing difficulties and (in some cases) allergic reactions.

Mrs Jowett said Council was taking a precautionary approach and advising against recreational activities in the dam.

‘At this time, we advise residents and visitors not to come into contact with dam water and not to eat fish from the dam,’ she said.

‘If you come into contact with the algae, rinse it off with fresh water and seek medical advice if symptoms appear.’

Testing will be increased to twice a week within the dam to monitor algae.

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