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Health warnings removed for algal bloom in Hakatere/Ashburton River at Hills Road, State Highway 1, Boundary Road and the hapua (river mouth)

Friday 28 May 2021Media release2 minutes to read

Health warning removed for algal bloom at Waiau River at Waiau Township Bridge

Health warnings have been removed for algal bloom along the Hakatere/Ashburton River

Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has lifted all of its algal bloom health warnings issued along the Hakatere/Ashburton River at Hills Road, State Highway 1, Boundary Road and the hapua (river mouth).

Recent cyanobacteria surveys of the Hakatere/Ashburton River have shown the cover of potentially toxic algae (benthic cyanobacteria) in the river has reduced and is now below levels that are of concern to public health.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says Environment Canterbury’s monitoring of Hakatere/Ashburton River 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.
  • A low cover of the algae can occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer months. Algal blooms are influenced by a combination of available nutrients in the water and sediments (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), a sustained period of low and stable flows, and favourable weather conditions (e.g. increased temperature, calm days).
  • It often has a strong musty smell and algal toxin concentrations can vary over short periods.
  • 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:

https://www.lawa.org.nz/explore-data/canterbury-region/

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

https://www.cph.co.nz/your-health/recreational-water/

For more information about Mahinga Kai:

https://www.cph.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/saf0112.pdf

ENDS

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Page last updated: 31 May 2021

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