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Potentially Toxic Algal Bloom in Lake Tutira

Monday January 18, 2016

An algal bloom sampled in Lake Tutira last week has been found to contain potentially toxic cyanobacteria.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council environmental science staff sent water samples from the lake to the Cawthron Institute.

“Cawthron has assessed that water is dominated by a potentially toxic species of cyanobacteria algae, Dolichospermum, at a level that requires an alert to the public to stay out of the water,” says HBRC Senior Environmental Scientist Anna Madarasz-Smith.

She says that although a bloom before Christmas was assessed as non-toxic, as summer has progressed the dominant species has changed to one that may produce toxins.

People are advised to avoid any contact with the water at Lake Tutira. There is permanent signage at Tutira warning visitors about the health risks of algal blooms and HBRC is continuing a project of computer modelling the lake catchment to assess possible solutions to improve lake water quality.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Nicholas Jones says that people should stay out of the water.

“Toxic blooms can develop quickly and skin contact can lead to skin rashes or eye irritation. More serious effects can occur if toxins are consumed. There may also be some risk with eating any fish from the lake, and if people want to eat fish, it should be thoroughly gutted and cleaned.”

6 April 2016

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