A LACK of rain and still, warm conditions have caused outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae across the south-west.
The Merri River is the latest waterway likely to be impacted by an algal outbreak, with warning signs going up this week.
“Water samples have been taken and are being tested to ascertain whether the river has potentially dangerous levels of blue-green algae,” Warrnambool City Council’s parks and recreation officer Terry O’Sullivan said yesterday.
Mr O’Sullivan said outbreaks were not uncommon in Victorian waterways with the weather conditions that often occurred at this time of year.
Regular users of the river have been notified and additional temporary signs warning of the outbreak have been erected at access points.
The council has warned that people should not drink from the river or allow their pets to drink river water.
Paddling, fishing and swimming is also discouraged.
Water quality will continue to be monitored and the public will be notified when levels return to normal. Corangamite Shire Council issued a warning this week when high levels of the algae were detected in Deep Lake north of Derrinallum.
Council’s sustainable development director Ian Gibb warned lake users to stay clear of the water as the species present could cause asthma-like symptoms and irritation of the skin, eyes, ears and nose.
“Lake Cobden also still contains high levels of the toxic Anabaena strain and contact with the water is still not safe for animals or humans,” Mr Gibb said.
“Warning signs have been erected at both locations to advise users to stay away from the water,” he said.
Mr Gibb said further testing carried out at Lake Bullen Merri showed algae levels were still measuring at low risk, making it available for use.
Lake Hamilton has also been affected by the algae this week, with warning signs in place for users.