Health warning lifted for Lake Taupō

The health warning issued last week for parts of Lake Taupō has now been lifted by the Medical Officer of Health.

Observation and water testing by Waikato Regional Council and Taupō District Council confirm that the algal bloom has dispersed in the affected areas of the lake for the time being. Gene testing of samples collected last Friday indicates the algae was not producing toxin then.

The Medical Officer of Health, Dr Jim Miller, advises caution when enjoying any lake or river this summer.  “The current warm conditions may encourage algae growth, so it is always safest to check the water before you get in.  Look before you leap; if the water looks discoloured, smells unusual, if there is scum on the surface, or the water has green or brown particles suspended in it – then it is best to avoid contact with the water and swim or play somewhere else.”

Waikato Regional Council senior water scientist, Bill Vant, says staff will be collecting samples from 12 of the lake’s bathing beaches weekly, and conducting visual inspections for signs of algal bloom, as part of a wider monitoring programme.

“With hot, calm conditions and the presence of plant nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen in water, the conditions are right for blooms to occur in our region’s waterways over summer. They can develop rapidly and unpredictably and in some cases can produce toxins that are harmful for people as well as animals.

“So we have staff on standby over the Christmas-New Year period to respond to any reports from the public of algal blooms in our region’s waterways. People who see what they think are algal blooms can report sightings to 0800 800 401,” says Mr Vant.

“We’ll also be continuing to work closely with our colleagues at Toi Te Ora Public Health, Taupō District Council and Tūwharetoa,” he says. 

Topia Rameka, Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board chief executive, says he is very pleased with the latest results.  “It is good things can now return to normal and our whānau and community can continue to enjoy our moana.”  He adds, “It is also a timely reminder that Lake Taupō is a dynamic environment.  The quality of our wai is paramount and we need to continue to look at ways to enhance and safeguard this precious resource.” 

Taupō District Council will continue monitoring its water supply intakes as part of its annual summer testing programme.  Private water supplies can also be reinstated now the warning has been lifted.

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