The Environment Agency have confirmed reports of Blue Green Algae in seven locations across Derwentwater as well as Killington Lake in Cumbria.
Friars Crag, Calf Close Bay, Ashness Gate, Abbots Bay, Hawes End and a caravan site around Derwentwater have all tested positive for potentially toxic Blue Green Algae this week which can have a negative effect on the appearance, quality and use of the water.
Throughout the summer months, the Environment Agency test water samples and confirm if Blue Green Algae has been found. They then inform landowners of the blooms, so they can take the necessary steps to warn the public of any potential dangers. This could may be the local authority, or a private landowner.
Jim Ratcliffe from the Environment Agency says: “Blue Green Algae naturally occurs in inland waters, such as our lakes in the Lake District.
“Blooms can form when their numbers become excessive. Once algal numbers are high, the bloom is likely to persist throughout the season, declining only on the onset of winter conditions. However, blooms form when the conditions are right, so they can form at any point throughout the year.
“Due to the conditions we’ve had this summer and autumn, we’ve received more reports of Blue-Green algal blooms than usual in a number of different locations throughout the Lake District.
“Blooms also move with the wind, so in a lake such as Derwentwater, a bloom can start in one location, but then move to a new location. Once we have a confirmed bloom in a particular location, Environment Agency officers sample every week until we’ve had two clear samples in a row.
“As always, it’s important people remember to report environmental incidents, such as pollution, or Blue Green Algae, to the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60 open 24/7, so we can investigate and take appropriate action to protect people and the environment.”
Water bodies affected by Blue Green Algae, or Algal Blooms may be green, blue-green or greenish brown and can produce musty, earthy or grassy odours. Blooms can also cause foaming on the shoreline, which can sometimes confused with sewage pollution. During a bloom, the water also becomes less clear, blocking sunlight and stopping plants in the water from growing.
Bloom and scum forming blue-green algae can produce toxins. Toxin producing blooms are called Harmful Algal Blooms. These toxins can be harmful to wild animals, farm livestock and domestic pets. In humans, they have been known to cause rashes after skin contact and illnesses if swallowed. Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but you can’t tell just by looking at them, so it’s best to assume they are.
If Environment Agency sampling confirms Blue Green Algae is present in a lake or river, they inform the landowner, who is encouraged to take the necessary steps to inform users of the water, by way of posters, notices or other means.
Advice on what to look out for, and the effects of blue-green algae, can be found here: http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor/policies/algae