01 April 2016

Algal bloom warning for Upper Swan Estuary; All-clear for Kent St Weir and Canning River

Members of the public have been warned to avoid recreational activities in the Swan River upstream of Windan Bridge in Claisebrook due to an algal bloom.

Department of Health Environmental Health Director Jim Dodds said last weekend’s heavy rainfall event in the Swan River catchment caused algae from the upper Swan area to move downstream into the Swan River.

People are urged to avoid primary contact recreational activities (e.g. swimming, water-skiing) in the Swan River upstream of Windan Bridge in Claisebrook where algae can be seen, and around any unnaturally discoloured or murky water, or water that smells unpleasant,” Mr Dodds said.

“In addition, secondary contact activities (e.g. kayaking, wading etc) should be undertaken with caution to avoid any direct contact with algal scum or unnaturally discoloured water.

“As a general rule people should avoid swimming near stormwater drains, particularly during or after heavy rainfall.  Swimming in the river should also be avoided for at least three days after heavy rainfall (>10mm).”

Direct contact with water containing blue-green algae may cause skin irritation, and ingestion may cause gastro-intestinal illness or liver damage. 

Anyone who comes in contact with algal affected water should rinse it off with clean water and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.

Mr Dodds said the Department of Health had lifted the warning to avoid recreational activities in the vicinity of Kent Street Weir and upstream in the Canning River, following recent water tests that confirmed that cyanobacterial (blue-green algae) levels at all monitoring sites within the Canning River had returned to normal.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife will continue to monitor and provide advice regarding algal levels in the Swan and Canning Rivers to the Department of Health.

For further information please refer to the weekly Microalgae Activity Report on the Department of Parks and Wildlife website, or algal blooms on the HealthyWA website.

ENDS

Media contact: (08) 9222 4333