Potentially toxic algae found in the Ashburton River

The Ashburton District Council has received notice from Environment Canterbury that monitoring of water quality at the Ashburton River bridge site SH1 has identified increased levels of toxic algae (cyanobacteria) which triggers warnings to be issued.

These results are consistent with monitoring in previous years.

People using the Ashburton/Hakatere River should therefore be aware that the water quality is not considered suitable for recreation and bathing due to the risk to health from bacteria present in the water.

Cyanobacteria have been found to contribute to eye, ear and skin irritation, as well as gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately and also let your doctor know if you've had contact with dark brown/black algal mats or water in this area.

Dog owners should also be aware that there is a risk to the health of animals, specifically dogs, from contacting or ingesting cyanobacteria. Dogs should be kept out of the water and ensure no algal material is eaten from in the water or at the water's edge.

If you suspect your dog has eaten toxic algae you should contact your vet immediately.

A joint protocol is in existence, between the Canterbury District Health Board, Environment Canterbury and the Ashburton District Council for action and roles of each organisation in the event of unsafe bacteria results in recreational bathing water.

Signage at the site will be erected at the earliest opportunity. 

Page reviewed: 12 Jan 2015 11:29am