Blue-green algae impacting Harrietville Dredge Hole water quality

A blue-green algae bloom is currently affecting the Harrietville Dredge Hole, making the water unsafe for swimming.

15 January 2022
Health

Alpine Shire Council Mayor Sarah Nicholas said direct contact with blue-green algae (BGA) can cause allergic reactions such as skin rashes or itchiness, sore eyes, ears and nose or if swallowed gastroenteritis, nausea or vomiting.

“We strongly recommend that people avoid contact with the water at the Harrietville Dredge Hole and keep their pets out of the Dredge Hole until this bloom has been resolved,” she said.

“People who come in to contact with contaminated water should wash immediately in fresh water and quickly seek medical advice if you are experiencing illness after contact with affected water.

“Visitors to the dredge hole can still enjoy other recreational activities such as bushwalking, boating and sightseeing.

“Pet owners, please keep your pets from drinking or having direct contact with contaminated water too, to keep them safe.”

The type of algae affecting the Harrietville Dredge Hole produces toxins that can concentrate in shellfish and crustaceans and accumulate in the liver and internal organs of fish. Ingesting BGA toxins can lead to serious illness.

People should not eat whole fish, shellfish or crustaceans collected from the dredge hole, and any fish harvested from BGA affected water should have gills and guts removed prior to cooking.

Cr Nicholas said water from the dredge hole should not be used for drinking, cooking or other domestic uses. Boiling the affected water will not make it safe for use.

“Irrigators are encouraged to take extra care to avoid spray drift, the pooling of water and inhaling mist from blue-green algae affected water,” she said.

“Affected water should not be sprayed onto leafy vegetables or, florets or allowed to flood pastures.”

The blue-green algae levels at the dredge hole are very high, and it is likely to be some weeks before levels are low enough for safe swimming. Council will keep the community updated as the situation progresses.

Learn more about blue-green algae at www.health.vic.gov.au/water/blue-green-algae-cyanobacteria.

For more information contact Council’s Environmental Health team on (03) 5755 0555 or by email at info@alpineshire.vic.gov.au.

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