Another toxic algae alert issued

The toxic algae plague continues in Southland.

Environment Southland reported on Monday its latest monitoring had found high levels of potentially toxic algae in the Waiau River at Tuatapere.

By yesterday, more high levels of potentially toxic algae in the Ōreti River at the Winton Bridge had been reported.

This alert is in addition to warnings already in place for the Mataura River at Gore and the Ōreti River at Branxholme.

Water users should be vigilant and avoid contact with water and the algae, and swimming in the Waiau River at Tuatapere should be avoided.

Similar growth may be occurring in other rivers and tributaries, so waterway users are advised to also be vigilant across Southland.

Algae occurs naturally in waterways and can flourish during fine conditions and periods of stable river flows. Most algae is harmless, but some cyanobacteria can produce toxins and rapidly bloom to high levels.

This algae is potentially toxic and can be commonly identified in waterways as a dark green/brown slime on rocks, or dark brown/black mats at the water’s edge.

The toxins this algae can produce are harmful to people and animals if swallowed, or through contact with skin.

People should keep dogs on a lead and children away from affected waterways.

The public is urged to be mindful of the potential health risks waterways with toxic algae alerts may pose, until health warnings are removed.

Environment Southland said if people experienced health symptoms after contact with contaminated water, visit a doctor immediately.

If people were concerned animals had consumed toxic algae or contaminated water, they should be taken to a vet immediately.

The public are urged to avoid eating fish caught in water with toxic algal blooms, and if they are consumed, they should only be eaten occasionally — less than one meal per week.

In places where there were toxic algae alerts, it was recommended anyone fishing wear clothing such as waders to minimise contact with the water.