Media Release - 23/02/10
Increased concentrations of cynobacteria (blue-green algae) and potential associated toxins are making Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere unsafe for drinking or recreational use.
Canterbury Medical Officer Ramon Pink said today that regular monitoring of the water had revealed that the levels of cynobacteria and toxins in the lake water had exceeded national guidelines and could potentially cause health problems.
Drinking the water is also potentially fatal for animals including dogs, sheep, cattle, fish and birds.
“Swimmers have been known to develop adverse reactions after bathing and showering in water containing blue-green algal blooms,” Dr Pink said.
“These include allergic reactions, asthma, eye irritations, rashes and blistering around the mouth and nose, and/or gastrointestinal disorders (abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea). Recreational users of the lake including duck shooters, fishermen and boat users should exercise caution in relation to recreational contact with the lake water.”
Monitoring of the lake water will continue but until the level of algal bloom reduces it will remain unsuitable for recreational use or drinking.
Warning signs advising people of these risks have been placed around the Lake. For further information, or if you become sick or think you may be sick after consuming water containing the algal bloom, seek medical advice from your doctor, or in the case of animals, your veterinarian.