A RED alert for potentially toxic blue-green algae in the Richmond River at Jabour Weir Casino and upstream has been issued, with a warning for locals not to come into contact with the water.
The alert indicates the water of the Richmond River at Casino is not suitable for recreational use, or primary contact by domestic users, and may pose a threat to livestock.
Residents and visitors are advised not to enter the water to undertake recreational activities where they may come into contact with the water, such as swimming, bathing, boating, water skiing, sailing, kayaking and fishing.
Richmond Valley Council is reassuring residents the town water supply is fully treated and safe to drink.
Acting General Manager Angela Jones said Council had altered its treatment processes to effectively remove the blue-green algae in the drinking water supply, meaning the treated town water supply was safe for human consumption.
Ms Jones said due to higher than normal manganese levels in the water there was the potential for the town water to be a little discoloured and have an odour. Manganese is a naturally occurring mineral which is present in soils, rocks, and sediment. It is also found abundantly in many common grains and vegetables.
She said Council’s top priority was ensuring the drinking water was safe to consume.
She said the red alert level warning indicated the blue-green algae levels in the river water presented a potential health risk and was likely to become more prevalent if dry and warm conditions continued.
Ms Jones said Council would continue to regularly sample and test the water.
She said warning signs had been erected at a number of locations due to the high risk to recreational use, including fishing and swimming which could lead to primary contact with the water.
However, she said the community should be on the look-out for algal blooms when swimming in any of our waterways during this red-alert period.
“The Richmond River water is likely to have a green tinge and a musty or organic odour,” Mr Jones said.
“It is unsuitable for recreational use, or primary contact by domestic users, and may also pose a threat to livestock.
“Livestock owners are reminded to continue to check stock water supplies for signs of blue-green algae and to remove stock from waterways where surface scum is visible or where blue-green algae are suspected, as blue-green algae are known to cause stock illness or even death.
“If water is ingested, or individuals come in contact with the water at red alert levels, there is risk to health and it is advised to seek medical attention. Children and people with pre-existing health problems are most at risk.
“People might also experience diarrhoea, skin, eye and ear irritations and other long term health problems. Asthma attacks can also be brought on by contact with blue-green algae.”
For more information on algal alerts currently in place, please call the NSW Government’s toll free algal information line on 1800 999 457 or visit water NSW website https://www.waternsw.com.au/water-quality/algae.
To report algal blooms email RACC@waternsw.com.au.