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Toxic algae closes Henley

Toxic algae has forced the closure of Henley Lake. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Masterton’s Henley Lake has been closed due to toxic algae.

Masterton District Council closed the lake for recreational purposeson Wednesday and issued a health warning after tests showed concentrations of cyanobacteria [toxic algae] at high levels.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is in the process of assessing rivers throughout the region, but there are concerns toxic algae could quickly become more widespread.

MDC community facilities and activities manager Andrea Jackson said the most recent testing at the lake confirmed high concentrations of the algae, which occurs during times of warm temperatures, prolonged sunshine and low water flow.

“We are advising people to avoid all contact with water in Henley Lake, in particular children, pregnant women and the elderly,” Jackson said.

“People are still free to use the greenspace but should keep to the paths and away from the water’s edge.”

Dogwalkers are also advised to be wary.

“Dogs may also be at risk – keep your dogs out of the water and away from the edge,” she said.

“Anyone who believes their dog may have eaten algae or ingested water should contact their vet immediately.

“Cyanobacteria produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed or through contact with skin such as during swimming or rowing.”

Exposure to cyanobacteria may cause symptoms such as skin rashes, nausea, tummy upset, and tingling or numbness around the mouth or tips of fingers. Pregnant women, children and the elderly are more likely to be affected.

Anyone experiencing such symptoms after contact with the lake should consult a doctor, who will notify the Public Health Unit.

MDC monitors cyanobacteria weekly at Henley Lake during the summer and will advise of any other changes in water quality that could represent a health risk.

The council says toxic algae is found in the majority of lakes and rivers in New Zealand.

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