Lake Taupō cleared for swimming after algae bloom scare

  • 15/12/2017

A health warning placed on parts of Lake Taupō, due to the sudden outbreak of a supposedly toxin-producing algae species, has now been removed.

Water testing carried out by the Taupō District Council and Waikato District Council has found that the algal bloom, thought to spark illness among those who'd visited various popular swimming spots, has now dispersed.

Earlier this week, the algae had been triggered by still, warm conditions, and the presence of nitrogen and phosphorous in the water. However, tests of samples collected last Friday showed no sign of the feared toxins.

Despite the removal of the warning, Toi Te Ora Public Health's Jim Miller has advised those swimming in the lake to remain cautious and keep a look out for odd-looking water.

"The current warm conditions may encourage algae growth, so it's always safest to check the water, before you get in," he said.

"Look before you leap - if the water looks discoloured, smells unusual, if there is scum on the surface, or the water has green or brown particles suspended in it, then it's best to avoid contact with the water, and swim or play somewhere else."

Waikato District Council will continue to monitor the lake at 12 locations weekly throughout the summer, due to the heightened likelihood of algal blooms created by the warm weather.

Staff are also on stand-by over the Christmas and New Year period, in case there's another outbreak.

Taupō District Council will also keep a close eye on its water supply.

Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board chief executive Topia Rameka says the announcement is a good thing for families and the wider community heading into summer.

"It is a timely reminder that Lake Taupō is a dynamic environment," he said.

"The quality of our wai [water] is paramount, and we need to continue to look at ways to enhance and safeguard this precious resource."