Health warning lifted for Selwyn Waikirikiri River at Whitecliffs Domain

Thursday 5 February 2015Media release2 minutes to read

Health warning lifted for Selwyn / Waikirikiri River at Whitecliffs Domain

The Community and Public Health division of the Canterbury District Health Board has lifted its algal bloom health warning issued along the Selwyn River at Whitecliffs Domain. This was issued on November 21, 2014.

Recent surveys at Whitecliffs Domain has shown the quantity of potentially toxic blue-green algae (benthic cyanobacteria) in the river has decreased and algal cover is now below levels of concern to public health.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says Environment Canterbury's sampling will continue to the end of this summer then will resume next summer when there is increased likelihood of cyanobacteria growth.

Facts about cyanobacteria:

Appears as dark brown/black mats attached to rocks along the riverbed
The algae occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer months
It often has a strong musty smell and algal toxin concentrations can vary over short periods with changing environmental conditions
Although high river levels will remove the algal bloom, detached mats can accumulate along the shore and increase the risk of exposure to toxins
If a health warning is in place avoid contact with the water
Although district or city councils may place warning signs, these may not be seen at the numerous river access points, hence the need for people/ dog-walkers to treat every low-flowing river cautiously.

For further information visit http://ecan.govt.nz/services/online-services/monitoring/swimming-water-quality/Pages/river-warnings.aspx

Or contact Community and Public Health on (03) 364 1777.

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