Clarrie Hall water toxic
TWEED'S main water storage, the Clarrie Hall Dam south-west of Murwillumbah, has become infected by a huge bloom of toxic blue green algae, prompting urgent pleas for people to stay clear of the dam and its water.
Water authorities yesterday issued a 'red alert' warning residents to avoid all contact with the water.
But Tweed Shire Council immediately moved to reassure locals that town water is safe to drink because it has stopped drawing supplies from the dam.
And even though the council may need to start taking dam water next week as river levels at the Bray Park Weir in Murwillumbah drop due to dry conditions, it said special precautions would be put in place to avoid contaminated drinking and washing supplies.
Farmers have been warned to remove stock from affected waterways around the dam; people collecting crayfish or mussels have been told not to eat them; anglers warned to thoroughly clean fish and dam visitors told not to swim or go into the water.
The red alert was issued by the North Coast Regional Algal Coordinating Committee in conjunction with Tweed Shire Council.
The council's water manager, Anthony Burnham, said residents and visitors should avoid all contact with the water in the dam.
“Routine sampling by council has detected high levels of blue green algae in the dam and we wish to advise landholders in the Doon Doon Creek catchment area to avoid contact with the affected water,” Mr Burnham said.
“People who use Clarrie Hall Dam for recreational and farming purposes need to be aware of this situation,” he said.
“Warning signs erected around Clarrie Hall Dam are to remain in place until the bloom subsides.”
But Mr Burnham said there was no immediate threat to the Tweed's water supply.
“The blue green algae breakout is confined within the dam and as we're not releasing from the dam. At the moment there's no immediate threat to the Tweed's water supply and drinking water,” he said.
“However due to low flows in the river, releases from the dam will potentially need to occur in the next week or so. At that time we will select the best quality water from the dam following testing at different depths in the top 20 metres.
Algal Coordinating Committee spokesperson Brian Dodd said landholders in the Doon Doon Creek catchment area should avoid contact with the affected water which could result in skin rashes and eye and ear irritations.
Mr Dodd said swallowing the water could also lead to diarrhoea and long-term health problems.
“Asthma attacks can also be brought on by contact with blue green algae,” he said