Hutt River toxic algae can kill dogs

Last updated 13:24 28/12/2012

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Toxic algae blooms that have been forming in the Hutt River during recent summers can kill dogs and make people sick.

The algae becomes more widespread in summer because there is less frequent rain to flush the algae away and water temperatures are higher.

"The algae also needs nutrients such as nitrogen to grow, which is why Upper Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Victoria University are working to better understand where nutrients in the river are coming from," says Upper Hutt sustainability adviser Roderick Boys.

The Hutt and Upper Hutt councils have put up warning signs along key access points to the Hutt River.

A new text alert system for registered dog owners has been put in place should the risk be further elevated. You can also visit the Greater Wellington Regional Council's website: gw.govt.nz/toxic- algae for the latest information on toxic algae, or gw.govt.nz/recreational- water-quality for information on water quality in the Hutt River.

Upper Hutt residents and visitors love to swim with the Hutt, Akatarawa and Pakuratahi Rivers offering accessible swimming pools. However, please take care, the water is cold, and can be deep and swift. To check up on where to swim go to: gw.govt.nz/Swimming-2.

If you are uncertain about river conditions and toxic algae, the Harcourt Park paddling pool and H2OXtream offer safe treated water swimming options.

KEEP SAFE

Keep you and your dog safe from toxic algae this summer:

How to spot toxic algae: Toxic algae form brown and black clumps at the river's edge or in parts of the river where rocks are exposed or it is shallow.

If you see a toxic algae warning sign or think you see toxic algae: Avoid touching and swimming near toxic algae. Put your dog on a lead and move away from the river edge.

If you think your dog has eaten toxic algae: Take your dog to a vet immediately. Contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and skin irritations in humans.

If you are concerned about symptoms following contact with toxic algae: Contact your doctor.

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- Upper Hutt Leader

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