March 14, 2024

The Corangamite Catchment Management Authority advises that the Barwon River in Geelong from below Baum's Weir to the Lower Breakwater is still experiencing an outbreak of blue-green algae which was first detected on 27th February 2024. Testing twice weekly is still occurring.

Warning signs remain in place at key access locations along the waterway, advising the public to avoid all contact with the water.

A combination of hot weather, low water flows and high nutrient levels in the Barwon River have contributed to the outbreak.

Testing commissioned by the Corangamite CMA on 6th March 2024 and again on 12th March 2024 has shown that levels of toxic blue green algae continue to be found in multiple sampling locations.

The Corangamite CMA will continue to conduct water samples and test for blue-green algae along the Barwon River in Geelong twice a week. Warning signs and health advice will remain in place until two consecutive results confirm levels have fallen below the alert levels across a 7–10-day period.

The decision to proceed with an event on the Barwon River through Geelong has been made by event organisers. However, the Corangamite CMA’s warning advice remains in place.

During algal outbreaks, people and their pets should avoid contact with the water. It is strongly advised that users of the river do not come into physical contact with the water, due to the potential health risk posed by blue green algae.

The Corangamite CMA’s advice is based on the Victorian Government's framework for managing blue-green algae, the Victorian Blue Green Algae Circular.

Contact with blue-green algae can cause skin rashes, eye and ear infections, vomiting and diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, sore throat and asthma symptoms.

Indirect contact with blue-green algae impacted water can cause skin irritation, sore eyes, ears and nose, mild respiratory systems, asthma and anaphylactic reactions in susceptible people.

Corangamite CMA advise that people should avoid eating shellfish or fish caught in contaminated water.

The Corangamite CMA will notify the public as soon as conditions change, and the river is safe for public use. The safety of the public is the Authority’s number one priority. Anyone experiencing a reaction should seek medical help.

Blue-green algae blooms can be seen with the naked eye across the water surface.

However blue-green algae toxins are colourless and odourless and can remain at dangerous levels in water even after the blooms have disappeared.

For information or to report a suspected blue-green algae outbreak, contact Corangamite CMA on 1800 002 262.


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