Emigrant Creek.
Emigrant Creek. Jay Cronan

Blue-green algae levels rise at Emigrant Creek Dam and creek

AUTHORITIES are warning that Emigrant Creek Dam and the creek below the dam in the Richmond catchment, are recording significant levels of blue-green algae.

David Basso, chair of the North Coast Regional Algal Coordinating Committee, was concerned about potential health risks to people and animals.

We wish to advise landholders in the catchment area downstream of the dam to be aware of the situation," he said.

"People who use the creek for recreation are also advised to avoid contact with the affected water while the red alert is in place as it could result in skin rashes, eye and ear irritations.

"Whilst the water extracted from the dam and treated for human consumption poses no risk, ingesting the untreated creek water can lead to diarrhea and other long term health problems. Asthma attacks can also be brought on by contact with blue-green algae."

Mr Basso noted that "there is some evidence that small quantities of algal toxins may enter fish flesh when a bloom produces toxins".

"Any fish caught in water affected by a bloom should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption," he said.

He also warned shellfish from the dam should not be eaten and said dogs and stock should be kept well away from the affected bodies of water.

"We also advise landholders around and downstream of Emigrant Creek Dam that stock and dogs are particularly at risk and should not be allowed to drink from Emigrant Creek," he said.

"Domestic pets should also be kept away from the area, especially dogs which are particularly susceptible as they ingest algae by licking their coats. All animals and stock should be kept away from the waterway as affected stock may die."

Rous Water is monitoring the situation by conducting regular sampling and analysis of the affected water and Mr Basso said they will advise when conditions change. The current status of the algal bloom is also available on Rous Water's web site at www.rous water.nsw.gov.au.

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