AN alert has been issued following the discovery of blue-green algae at Lake Bolac.
Parks Victoria issued the alert Wednesday afternoon.
Area Chief Ranger Siobhan Rogan said that although blue-green algae was not uncommon in the lake, it didn’t usually appear so early in the year.
“The blue-green algae blooms appear when there’s the right combination of temperatures, sunlight, stillness and nutrients,” she said.
“While we can’t treat the algae, we’ll continue to monitor water quality and will remove warnings from the lake and our website when the bloom has naturally cleared.
“Given that it’s only early January, this may be some months away still.”
Warning signs have been installed at the lake and Parks Victoria warned people not to swim and to avoid any direct contact with the water.
Direct contact with blue-green algae can cause allergic reactions such as skin rashes or itchiness, sore eyes, ears and nose, and if swallowed gastroenteritis, nausea or vomiting.
Lake Bolac Caravan Park owner Lorraine Deutsch said despite the bad news, some tourists did not seem deterred.
“We have got people out there in boats at the moment, and they have been warned but it’s up to them,” she said.
“As long as they don't go into the water, and if they go water skiing they shower afterwards (they’ll be okay).
“There is a pool at the caravan park people can use, though it doesn't belong to us.”
Mrs Deutsch said others were more cautious.
“We’ve had fishermen cancel because of it, so that’s affected us of course,” she said.
“We also had a couple of cabins cancel.”
Parks Victoria issued the following advice to lake users:
- People who come into contact with contaminated water should wash immediately in fresh water, and seek medical advice if experiencing illness.
- Any fish harvested from blue-green algae affected water should have gills and guts removed prior to cooking.
- People should not eat whole fish, shellfish or crustaceans collected from Lake Bolac.
- The type of algae affecting Lake Bolac produces toxins that can concentrate in shellfish and crustaceans, and accumulate in the liver and internal organs of fish.
- Ingesting blue-green algae toxins can lead to serious illness.
- Water from the affected water body should not be used for drinking, cooking or other domestic uses. Boiling the affected water will not make it safe for use.
- For any health issues experienced after contact with blue-green algae affected water please seek medical advice immediately.
- Irrigators are encouraged to take extra care to avoid spray drift, the pooling of water and inhaling mist from blue-green algae affected water. Affected water should not be sprayed onto leafy vegetables or florets, or allowed to flood pastures.
- Pet owners should prevent pets from drinking or having direct contact with contaminated water.
- Visitors to the area are advised that they can still enjoy other recreational activities such as bush walking, boating and sightseeing around the water body.
- Members of the public are asked to report any potential blue-green algae blooms to their local water manager.
Parks Victoria will continue to monitor conditions and will remove signage once the lake is safe for use.
More information about blue-green algae is available here from Department of Health and Human Services.