Beware: blue-green algae found at Chasewater

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The algae is a natural occurrence, but can be deadly for dogs and very unpleasant for humans. Photo taken 24th July 2016 at Chasewater, by me.

It’s important that I make readers aware of recent concerns about blue-green algae at Chasewater – over the weekend, the park management appear to have been hard at work printing, laminating and sticking up signs warning against swimming in the lake, and warning dogs and their owners to be wary as blue-green algae has been found in the water.

[Edit, added 1:45pm 25th July] Monday lunchtime (25th July 2016) Staffordshire County Council, who manage Chasewater, issued the following statement:

Hi Bob,

Statement from Staffordshire County Council here:

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Environment at Staffordshire County Council explained that park rangers noticed the blue green algae on the water over the weekend and signs were put up around the lake to let people know.

Gill said: ‘We are now having the water tested to see what kind of algae it is. As a precautionary measure we are asking people not to go into the water and for dog owners to keep their pets away from the water’s edge.

‘There are lots of different types of algae that gather on water. Once we have the results back and know which type of algae we are dealing with we will take the appropriate action.’

The algae is a natural occurrence, common in outdoor waters at this time of year. The Environment Agency explains this organic growth:

Blue-green algae naturally occur in inland waters, estuaries and the sea. Blooms can form when their numbers become excessive.

There’s a wide range of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). In fresh waters, they’re suspended within the water or attached to rocks and other surfaces. They include single- celled species and others whose cells are arranged in colonies and filaments. It’s difficult to see individual cells, colonies and filaments, but you usually can when they’re concentrated into clumps. These clumps can look like green flakes, greenish bundles or brownish dots.

Where high levels of phosphorus exist, and other requirements for growth are met – for example, adequate light, mixing, flow and temperature – then the numbers of blue- green algae can increase. Increased periods of growth are called blooms.

Blooms can have a negative effect on the appearance, quality and use of the water. It may become green, blue-green or greenish- brown and several species can produce musty, earthy or grassy odours. Blooms can also cause foaming on the shoreline – sometimes confused with sewage pollution.

During a bloom, the water also becomes less clear, blocking sunlight and stopping plants in the water from growing.

There’s nothing that can practically be done to counter this problem in the water, and caution is advised until the danger passes.

Blue-Green algae can be quite toxic to humans upon ingestion, and can be deadly to dogs. If your pet enjoys a swim, Chasewater should be avoided for the foreseeable future, and it’s definitely not good for human swimming (although it’s not for casual swimming at the best of times!)

After people showed some scepticism on social media, I went to check and see the signs for myself yesterday, and they’re certainly genuine.

If you suspect your dog has been made ill by algal poisoning, there’s a help guide here. for people concerned about wake boarding or other Chasewater based waterspouts, best contact the relevant club or operator for guidance.

I’m hoping to obtain a statement from Staffordshire Council in due course.

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There are lots of new ‘No swimming’ notices, but a few of the blue-green algae warning ones too. This one was on the life lifebelt post near the dam bridge and steps, a popular spot for dog swimming.

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One Response to Beware: blue-green algae found at Chasewater

  1. Hi Bob,

    Statement from Staffordshire County Council here:

    Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Environment at Staffordshire County Council explained that park rangers noticed the blue green algae on the water over the weekend and signs were put up around the lake to let people know.

    Gill said: “We are now having the water tested to see what kind of algae it is. As a precautionary measure we are asking people not to go into the water and for dog owners to keep their pets away from the water’s edge.
    “There are lots of different types of algae that gather on water. Once we have the results back and know which type of algae we are dealing with we will take the appropriate action.”

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