Australian Government

Expert group to advise on Murray blue-green algae outbreak

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Source: Australian Government

Murray-Darling Basin states and the Commonwealth have established a high-level panel of leading experts and senior officials to advise on the ongoing response to the blue-green algae outbreak currently affecting the River Murray.

The Murray-Darling Blue-green Algal Bloom Advisory Panel will be chaired by Murray-Darling Basin Authority Chief Executive, Rob Freeman.

It will include leading experts in the fields of water quality, river ecology, public health and animal health/toxicology as well as senior Commonwealth and state officials.

“Action taken so far by Basin states and federal authorities in response to the outbreak has been constructive and effective,” Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong said.

“State and federal authorities have been working co-operatively with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in a co-ordinated response to the outbreak.

“The Blue-green Algae Advisory Panel will formalise this process, advising State and Commonwealth governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on the best way forward.

“With a range of response measures already in place, the panel will provide expert advice on any further measures required to contain the outbreak and manage the risks that it poses to public health.”

A large part of the River Murray in New South Wales is currently affected by algal blooms and a red alert was issued by the Murray Regional Algal Coordinating Committee on 26 March to cover the area from Hume Dam to Torrumbarry Weir.

“The current outbreak of blue-green algae is already quite extensive. It has the potential to spread further along the River Murray and its tributaries in the coming days and weeks - though indications today are that its progress is slowing as temperatures cool,” Senator Wong said.

The affected water is not suitable for drinking and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact.

It is most important that people avoid contact with water in the river in affected areas and follow advice from local authorities.

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