Understanding blue-green algae

There are no algal blooms in South Australia at this time but you may be interested to learn more about it while we are hearing of alerts in Victoria.

The following fact sheet is good reading : Fact Sheet for Blue-green Algae

Blue-green algaes are actually cyanobacteria and are naturally present in our waterways, so it is only a Bloom Event that might affect us. Algal blooms are not uncommon at this time of the year when favourable conditions align:

  • the water flow is slow
  • water nutrients are high, and
  • the temperature is warm

Blooms of some blue-green algae species produce unpleasant odours while others produce toxins. Some of these can be toxic on contact, not just ingestion. Boiling the water does not kill the toxins. In fact some treatments used to kill cyanobacteria can cause an increase in toxin release. A quickening flow and/or a lowering of temperatures destroys Blooms.

Being the main water supply for towns and cities, Murray River water is constantly tested at monitoring platforms set at regular intervals along the river. Therefore changes in water quality are readily identified. 

So, in South Australia the Murray River is clear and we are using river water for stock, irrigation and recreation as usual. If an algal bloom is detected in South Australia, an alert will be issued for that specific area, along with specific guidelines for us to follow.


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