Blue-Green Algae

Photo courtesy of CSIRO.
Photo courtesy of CSIRO.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is a type of bacteria with traits of both bacteria and algae. It can be found in almost all water systems, and can appear individually or in a group.

In appropriate conditions, blue-green algae can grow rapidly and form visible blooms, or scums. Blooms generally occur during summer and autumn, when nutrient levels are high, temperatures are warm, and the water is relatively still. Weather conditions, nutrient levels and water flow will affect how long a bloom lasts.

Water affected by blue-green algae may not be suitable for drinking, recreation or agricultural use.

When advised about blue-green algae contaminations, Council recommends:

  • People and pets do not enter the water.
  • People who come into contact with affected water should wash affected skin immediately in clean cold water.
  • Seeking an alternative water supply for pets.
  • Do not use affected water for cooking, drinking, washing or showering. Boiling the affected water will not make it safe for these purposes.
  • Blue-green algae occurs naturally in waterbodies. They contain toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Signs of algae contact are skin rashes or itchiness, sore eyes, ears and nose, or if swallowed, nausea or vomiting.
  • It is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels.

For more information about blue-green algae and your health, visit the Goulburn-Murray Water websitevisit the Better Health website or phone NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 606 024.