The Greater Wellington Regional Council, Masterton District Council and Regional Public Health are urging river users to protect themselves and their dogs from toxic algae, with an increase of algal growth detected in Masterton’s Waipoua River this week.
Toxic algae – or cyanobacteria – form brown or black clumps on river beds and can kill livestock and dogs. The clumps can peel off and often wash up on the river’s edge where dogs can easily come into contact with them. If your dog eats toxic algae, it can die very quickly. Contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritations and other allergy-type symptoms in humans.
The Regional Council’s weekly river monitoring has shown increased coverage of toxic algae at its Colombo Road monitoring site along the Waipoua River, presenting a potential risk to river users. Masterton District Council staff are putting up warning signs along key access points to the river.
Juliet Milne, the Regional Council’s Aquatic Ecosystems and Quality Team Leader, says that toxic algae can be abundant in many New Zealand waterways during summer.
“The warm weather in the Wairarapa and the lack of heavy rain in the Waipoua catchment are key factors behind the increase. The risk to river users and dogs is likely to remain until there’s significant rainfall to flush the algae away.”
Keep you and your dog safe from toxic algae this summer: