'Unacceptable risk': Toxic algae 'may cause serious harm'
NEW tests have revealed that levels of blue-green algae at Lake Ainsworth have worsened.
People are being urged to stay away from the popular Lennox Head lake, with Ballina Shire Council staff advising against swimming or other recreational activities.
The lake is currently at "red alert” level and is closed.
Warning signs erected at the lake explain the situation: "Harmful algae may be present in this water. Contact may cause serious harm to humans and animals”.
The council says the lake will remain closed for at least another two weeks, but it is likely to be even longer.
"It is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels,” the council explained in a statement.
"Regular monitoring will continue and the alert will be lifted as soon possible.
"The lake is managed under the WaterNSW Guidelines and the red alert can only be lifted when two consecutive results below the red alert level have been recorded a week apart.
"Slicks and scums must also not be present for the red alert to be lifted.
"This means the lake will remain closed over the Australia day long weekend.”
Test results from Monday show an increase in blue green algae levels and the dominate species is Microcystis, which is potentially toxic, according to the council.
"Extensive slicks and scums are present during still conditions presenting an unacceptable risk to the public and therefore the red alert remains in place and the public are advised to not use the lake for primary recreation until further notice,” the council explains on its website.
Testing has been increased to twice a week. Results are available on the council's website.