Warning after outbreak of ‘harmful’ blue-green algae at reservoir in Northamptonshire

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Visitors to a reservoir in Northamptonshire are being advised to stay away from the water after an outbreak of blue-green algae.

The Canal & River Trust is advising visitors to Drayton Reservoir in Daventry to avoid contact with the water due to a potential outbreak of blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae occur naturally in many inland freshwaters. Occasionally, blue-green algae ‘blooms’, colouring the water green, blue-green or greenish brown and sometimes causing paint-like or jelly-like scums. While the outbreak of blue-green algae in summer is a natural occurrence, it can be harmful to the skin, causing allergic reactions including itchy eyes, skin irritation and hay fever-like symptoms.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the toxicity of blue-green algae, the trust is encouraging visitors to the reservoir, their children and pets to avoid contact with the water. Warning signs have been placed around the affected areas.

Richard Bennett, environment manager at the Canal & River Trust said: “Drayton Reservoir is a great place for people to come for a walk or cycle to see the varied wildlife and heritage it offers. We want people to continue to enjoy the lovely waterside setting but to be aware that there’s a current outbreak of blue-green algae in the water

“Blue-green algae is naturally occurring but it can be harmful to your skin. We’re asking people to be extra careful and if they or their pets come into contact with the affected water, they should wash all exposed skin with clean water as soon as possible, and particularly before eating or drinking. If they are in any doubt about their welfare after contact with algae, they should seek medical advice.”

The potential outbreaks of blue-green algae may persist whilst the weather remains unseasonably warm. The location and extent of the bloom and any scums may vary with wind, weather and water movements so visitors are being asked to continue to enjoy the waterside but remain vigilant.