Alton Water latest in string of blue-green algae victims as blooms thrive in heat
- Credit: TERRY HUNT
Alton Water is just the latest casualty of blue-green algae, as the toxic blooms have flourished in hot weather.
The algae has cropped up in other bodies of water, including in Diss – where the mere will have a hi-tech ultrasound device installed next week to tackle the persistent problem.
The Lake District has also been affected, with the dangerous algae found in three locations – Ullswater, Coniston Water and Windermere.
According to the Blue Cross, the algae is most common in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall – making July’s conditions ideal for blooms to grow.
Speaking about the latest outbreak in Alton Water, home of Aqua Park Suffolk, a spokesperson for Anglian Water said the discovery had been made at some point this week.
He added that there is always some algae present in the environment, but this bloom “tipped over the level” that the company would consider safe.
It is hoped that the Aqua Park will be reopened in the near future, with staff testing the water twice a day.
The spokesperson confirmed that, so far, Anglian Water has had no reports of any illnesses contracted by people who have come into contact with the water this week.
When asked whether the algae may affect the drinking water drawn from the reservoir, he added: “The treatment centre is right next to it – if there is anything in the water, an alarm will go off. There is no risk whatsoever to drinking water.”
Spread over more than 8,000 square metres, the new Aqua Park was set to be the largest of its kind to splash down in the UK this summer.
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What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is a type of ‘blooming algae’, which occurs naturally in inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes. It causes the water to become less clear and may look green, blue-green or greenish-brown.
This particular type of algae produces toxins, which are potentially harmful to pets, wild animals, livestock, and even people. It could pose a very serious problem for the splash park, which has become a top choice for birthday parties and family days out, as children are at a greater risk than adults.
If swallowed, blue-green algae can cause sickness, stomach pains, fever and headaches in humans. In extreme cases, there have also been reports of serious illnesses including liver and brain damage.
Blue-green algae is known to be fatal to pets, as it can produce harmful toxins which affect the liver. If swallowed, the substance can kill dogs in just 15 minutes. There is no antidote for the toxin.
As Alton Water’s campsite is still open to visitors for the time being, Anglian Water has paused all public use of the water and advised for dog owners to keep their pets on a lead “at all times”.
The advice from the Environment Agency is to keep pets and children away from the substance and avoid skin contact with the water or algae. The Blue Cross emphasises that you should never drink from affected water.