Algae warning for Murray River lifted

27 Jun, 2016 06:02 PM

A four-month blue green algae warning for the Murray River has been lifted by water authorities.

Goulburn Murray Water announced on Friday it was safe for people to come in direct contact with the river, which had been affected by the naturally occurring bloom since early March.

Echuca Moama Regional Tourism executive officer Tom Smith said the downgrade was welcome news as Victorian schools break for their mid-year holiday.

But tourists’ fear about the threat of blue-green algae had caused hardship for businesses that relied on the water, he said.

“Stand-up paddle boarding, those people directly on the banks of the river, houseboats – there's no question it’s severely impacted on their business,” he said.

A spokeswoman from Dinky Di Houseboats, based in Moama, said they had lost about $70,000 in bookings during the algal bloom.

“It’s been a rough couple of months,” she said.

“Because we've had it for so long, we haven't had any bookings of recent. Our bookings have dropped dramatically.”

The spokeswoman said her company’s next step was letting its clients know the warnings were lifted.

But Mr Smith expected the river would eventually be contaminated with another algae outbreak and hoped subsequent warnings from the state government and water authorities would assure the public that threats to their health were small.

“Yes, it (the warning) had to be out there and it was factual, but it had to be tempered with some common sense,” he said.

The downgrade also coincides with the Murray spiny crayfish season, but fishing enthusiasts are being told to wait a fortnight until the animals are clear of blue-green algae traces.

Despite the removal of warnings for the Murray, algae remains a problem for Cairn Curran Reservoir and Lake Boga.

The Cairn Curran warning has been in place since December last year and recommendations on the Goulburn Murray website still encourage people and their pets to stay out of the waterhole.

Anyone who came in contact with affected water should wash their skin immediately, the website said.

But Welshman’s Reef Holiday Park caretaker Mark Shatwell said the blue green algae had caused his business little concern because there was no water in the reservoir near his site.

Cairn Curran water levels fell to 11.5 per cent this month, down from about 60 per cent at the same time last year, a costly dry spell for the business.

”We're still carting water in, which is a big cost, but otherwise the park can't stay open,” he said.

“But because there's no water, you don’t get many campers.”


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