Greater Wellington Regional Council is urging swimmers and dog owners to be vigilant as two more river sites along the Hutt River and one on the Pakuratahi River at Kaitoke return toxic algae readings at amber warning levels.
Detached algal mats are also present at all sites, the Council said in a statement.
Council Marine and Freshwater Team Leader, Dr Evan Harrison said, “Toxic algae has increased to amber levels at all sites meaning we strongly advise caution to swimmers and to check the LAWA website regularly for updates before getting in the water”.
The warning bears greater significance for dog owners as dogs like the smell and taste of the algae and a small piece, only around the size of a 50c coin, is enough to kill a dog, he warned.
“The risk is higher with detached algal mats being found at both sites, meaning the algae has broken off rocks in the riverbed and accumulated at the river’s edge, within easy reach for dogs,” said Dr Harrison.
The Hutt River has already seen monitored areas return red warning levels of toxic algae this month. From Moonshine Bridge to upstream of Taita Rock inclusive there are two sites The Hutt River near Silverstreamlaunch, and Hutt River upstream of Silverstream bridgelaunch which should be avoided.
“We’ve seen sites that are safe to swim in, move to dangerous warning levels within a matter of days. The warm weather is accelerating toxic algae growth, which highlights the importance of checking LAWA’s latest results before heading there with or without your pets,” said Dr Harrison.
Council is currently monitoring popular swimming spots around the region on a weekly basis to ensure the community knows when and where it’s safe to swim.
Members of the public who think they or their dogs have been in contact with toxic algae should see your doctor or ring Healthline on 0800 611 116 and for their dogs, take it immediately to the nearest vet.