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Toxic algae prevents public use of Camlough Lake

September 8, 2014

The presence of blue-green algae in Camlough Lake forced organisers to cancel the swim stage of a planned triathlon yesterday (Sunday), amid safety fears for anyone using the water.

The Camlough Lake Water Festival (CLWF) committee said it took the decision following test results carried out by officials from Newry and Mourne District Council, which found high levels of algae in the water.

On Thursday the Council erected signs at the lake advising the public not to swim, fish or consume fish from the lake, stating that the water contained toxins which pose serious risk to humans.

The Council later issued a statement describing the function of blue-green algae and its effects: “Blue-green algae occur naturally in inland waters, estuaries and the sea. Blue-green algae and other algal groups are important contributors to the aquatic biology of fresh and marine waters. They are primary producers that convert sunlight to energy by photosynthesis, release oxygen and carbon dioxide into water, take up minerals and produce food chain supporting substances.  However, under certain conditions the level of Blue-green algae can grow to form a bloom, which has a negative impact on the environment and poses a risk to marine life and other users of the affected environment.”

The statement went on to advise the public to stay away from the water: “During such times when there is an active Blue-green algae bloom the Council advises that no one should enter the water within the lake, fish at the lake or consume fish from the lake. Animals and livestock should be kept away from the water. “The Council has erected signs at Camlough Lake to advise of this and will continue to monitor the situation. When it is considered that the risk no longer exists, the signs will be removed.”

At the time of going to press, the warning signs remained in place at Camlough Lake.

More information on Blue-green algae blooms can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/blue-green-algae-advice-for-the-public.

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