Summer fun on Wagga’s Lake Albert has ground to a halt with residents and visitors warned that the presence of blue-green algae has once again increased to dangerous levels.
Wagga City Council (WWCC) issued a health alert on Friday (19 January), advising people to stay out of the water.
“We’re advising everyone in the community to avoid coming into contact with water from the lake, and this includes your pets; dogs are especially susceptible to these toxins,” said Wagga City Council’s Mark Gardiner.
“Particular care should be taken where algae can be seen, or where the water has a strong odour.”
Blue-green algae blooms are caused by a combination of warm weather and an influx of nutrients from the catchment.
WWCC and Australian company Waterzyme began a trial this month to introduce an organic enzyme into the lake in the hope it will starve the algae of sunlight and cause a cellular breakdown.
Despite the red alert, WWCC General Manager Peter Thompson is hopeful the treatment is already taking effect.
“The actual enzyme was only applied at about 48 hours, or 36 hours before that grab sample was taken,” he explained.
“We know that that enzyme was always predicted to take two to three weeks to have an effect.
“In fact, it was the presence of the blue-green algae that was one of the drivers for us to say, ‘Well, it’s probably a good time to try it.'”
Mr Thompson said it was disappointing they had reached alert levels but said it had also created “a level of anticipation about what we might achieve in the next two to three weeks from that enzyme activity”.
With fresh samples taken this week, he said it was a chance to clearly determine whether the trial was effective.
“Anecdotally, people involved in the project at the lake say that already you can see a reduction in the blue-green algae,” he said.
“We sent samples to the lab for analysis yesterday; we’ll grab more samples on Monday to send for analysis and we’re hopeful that the blue-green algae will recede.
“Hopefully [it will] give us some notion that there’s at least a correlation there between the two and give us some confidence that we might have a natural solution that doesn’t involve adding heavy chemicals to the lake in order to control the algae.”
In the meantime, residents are urged to take care and signs have been put up by council advising people to avoid contact with the water.
Blue-green algae can appear as specking, suspended clumps or as algal scums which take the form of green or yellow discoloured slicks on the water’s surface.
“We appreciate everyone staying out of the water and we will notify the community as soon as the readings are at an acceptable level,” Mr Gardiner said.
For more information about the lake, visit here.