Red alert for Toc. water

By Daniel Hughes

A Red Alert algal warning has been issued for Tocumwal on the River Murray with blue green algae cell counts of over 15,000 cells/ML.

This declaration of the high-level alert follows the weekly testing undertaken by WaterNSW as levels of blue green algae in other sections of the river continue to fluctuate.

The Berrigan Shire Council are currently working on countermeasures to reduce the algae counts using powdered activated carbon (PAC).

“The council is continuing to dose PAC in Barooga, Berrigan, Finley and Tocumwal to combat Blue Green Algae,” council's director technical services Matt Clarke said.

“A taste and odour may come as a result from water treatment processes for the production of drinking water.

“Council has not had counts below 5000 cells/ML (commence PAC dosing level) in Tocumwal since January of this year.”

People should not undertake recreational activities where they may be coming into direct contact with the water.

Contact with the water may also pose a threat to livestock, and pets.

On March 9 when the river was last tested, the highest cell count of the four towns was in Tocumwal with a cell count of 15,800.

The dominant cyanobacteria detected may produce toxins and people may detect a strong musty odour.

People are advised not to enter the water, not to drink untreated water or bathe in untreated water while a red alert level warning is in place. Boiling the water will not remove algal toxins.

People should not eat fish, mussels or crayfish from Red Alert warning areas.

Blue-green algae usually appear as green paint-like scums on the water, near the edges, or as greenish clumps throughout the water. The water can appear dirty, green or discoloured.

Updates about blue-green algae blooms and red level warning areas can be obtained by calling 1800 999 457 or visiting –

A test was being administered for an updated algae count when the Southern Riverina News went to print yesterday.