A fortnight has passed since Wagga City Council discovered high levels of blue-green algae in Lake Albert, but it seems it is not closer to a solution now than two weeks ago.
The council initially advised that additional tests would be done on January 2, but they have since told The Daily Advertiser that those were unnecessary after a “visual inspection” on Friday confirmed the presence of algae.
Council’s acting manager of environment and city compliance Sharomi Dayanand said further testing would be done next week.
“The current ‘red alert’ will remain whilst widespread areas of blue-green algae are visible,” Ms Dayanand said.
“Council advises the community that people and domestic animals should not come into contact with water from the lake.”
Wagga Boat Club commodore Mick Henderson said the economic impacts of the lake’s closure have been disastrous, and he is extremely concerned about how long the situation will go on for.
If you closed the main street in Wagga for two weeks, you listen to the shop owners complain – well this is our main street.Commodore Mick Henderson
“It’s had a huge impact – I've been to the council trying to get some answers to see what we can do about it, because it's certainly affecting our cash flow and our day-to-day activities on the water.
“This is what I'm very disappointed about – they're saying it's taking them longer just because they're on holidays – well, we're all on holidays, and this is when we usually get the most business.”
Senior lecturer in chemistry at Charles Sturt University Dr Julia Howitt said Lake Albert is unfortunately the perfect environment for algal growth.
“There are management approaches you can use that will potentially decrease the number of blooms that will occur, but if you were designing a system to encourage blue-green algal blooms, it might look a lot like Lake Albert,” Dr Howitt said.
“It’s a very big open water area, there’s lots of light access for the algae as the water's not shaded, it's shallow, so that means the water can get quite warm when we have warm weather, the source of the water is a combination of rural catchment and urban storm water, so that will bring lots of nutrients into the system – and that's basically all the algae needs.”
“It's a really complex problem and the council have got a pretty tough job on their hands managing to maintain all the different parameters of the lake.”
Algae thrives in warm temperatures, and with this weekend promising 40+ degree weather, it doesn’t look like Lake Albert will once again be safe to use any time soon.