The algal alerts reported on this web page are for recreational water use by the general public. Algal blooms can cause waters to be unsafe for recreation in both freshwater and marine water environments. Algal alerts are issued by Regional Algal Coordinating Committees (RACCs) who are responsible for local management of algal blooms.

For information on current recreational alerts view the status reports on this page, call the NSW algae hotline on 1800 999 457, or view the RACC media releases.

Latest algal alert reports

The summary report below provides the most recent algal data collated by the RACCs from across NSW. Algal blooms may be present and not reported to the RACCs. Locations identified below were experiencing algal blooms at the date of the report. This report does not contain data from water storages managed by water supply authorities where there is no public access.

NSW Health advises that any domestic use (including drinking) of surface water without appropriate treatment should be avoided at all times.

Map of algal alerts in New South Wales

Map of algal alerts in New South Wales

Recreational 'red alert' algal status report: updated 22 April 2014

The summary below is based on the most recent algal data available from the NSW Office of Water laboratory and other sources.

For the latest information on Myall Lakes, go to the Hunter Regional Algal Coordinating Committee page.

To sort this table alphabetically click on the column heading.

Coordination area Location Major use Trend Management action
North Coast Baywood Chase Pond, Byron Bay Visual amenity, passive recreation, stormwater retention Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by Byron Shire Council
North Coast Emigrant Creek Reservoir Recreation, stock and domestic, potable Steady Media release, downstream water users notified, not on-line for potable supply, continued surveillance by Rous Water
North Coast Alumy Creek, Grafton Recreation, stock and domestic Steady Media release, continued surveillance by Clarence Valley Council
Hunter Myall Lake, Myall Lakes National Park Recreation New Signs erected, continued surveillance by National Parks and Wildlife Service 
Hunter Boolambayte Lake, Myall Lakes National Park Recreation Decreasing Media release, continued surveillance by National Parks and Wildlife Service
Hunter Telarah Lagoon, Maitland Visual amenity, stock and domestic Decreasing Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by Maitland City Council
Hunter Hands Lagoon, Maitland Visual amenity Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by Maitland City Council
Hunter Rathluba Lagoon, Maitland Visual amenity, stock watering Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by Maitland City Council
Hunter Walka Waterworks Lagoon, Maitland Visual amenity Decreasing Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by Maitland City Council
Metropolitan / South Coast Centennial Park, Randwick Visual amenity, passive recreation Steady Signs posted at impacted ponds by Centennial Park Trust, continued surveillance
Metropolitan / South Coast Sir Joseph Banks Park, Botany Visual amenity, passive recreation Steady Signs erected by Botany Bay City Council, continued surveillance, destratification
Barwon Pindari Reservoir Irrigation, recreation, stock and domestic Steady Signs erected, continued surveillance by State Water Corporation
Barwon Lake Inverell and the Macintyre River downstream Irrigation, recreation, stock and domestic Steady Signs erected, continued surveillance by Office of Water
Barwon Copeton Reservoir Irrigation, recreation, stock and domestic Steady Continued surveillance by State Water Corporation
Murrumbidgee Downstream Barren Box Swamp Irrigation, stock and domestic Steady Limited public access. Local landholders advised by Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited
Murrumbidgee Yanga Lake (Balranald) Recreation, stock watering Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by National Parks and Wildlife Service
Far West Darling River at Atley Recreation, stock and domestic Steady Continued surveillance, Central Darling Shire Council and local landholders advised
Sunraysia Lake Menindee Recreation, stock and domestic, irrigation Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by State Water Corporation
Sunraysia Lake Wetherell Recreation, stock and domestic, irrigation Steady Media release, signs erected, continued surveillance by State Water Corporation
Sunraysia Great Darling Anabranch between Peter Withers Bridge and Tara Downs Stock and domestic Steady (Bulpunga) Media release, continued surveillance by Office of Water

Red alerts are declared where algal cell numbers exceed the triggers identified in the Guidelines for Managing Risk in Recreational Waters released by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

All blue green algae 'blooms' should be considered as potentially toxic to humans and animals, and the water should not be used for potable water supply (without prior treatment), stock watering, or for recreation. NSW Health advises that any domestic use (including drinking) of surface water without treatment should be avoided at all times.

Alert level definitions

Red

These alert levels represent 'bloom' conditions. The water will appear green and may have strong, musty or organically polluted odours. Blue-green algae may be visible as clumps or as scums. The 'blooms' should be considered to be toxic to humans and animals, and the water should not be used for potable water supply (without prior treatment), stock watering, or for recreation.

Amber

Blue-green algae may be multiplying in numbers. The water may have a green tinge and musty or organic taste and odour. The water should be considered as unsuitable for potable use and alternative supplies or prior treatment of raw water for domestic purposes should be considered. The water may also be unsuitable for stock watering. The water remains suitable for recreational use.

Green

Blue-green algae are first detected in the water at low amounts, possibly signalling the early stages of the development of a bloom. At these concentrations, the blue-green algae do not pose a threat to recreational, stock or domestic use.

Information for water utilities

A new alerts level framework for raw waters used as a source for potable supply is available at Water Quality Research Australia (PDF 2.7 MB).

Managing algal blooms

The NSW Office of Water oversees the algal risk management framework for fresh and marine waters and has a co-ordination or knowledge broker role that includes co-ordinating the State Algal Advisory Group (SAAG) and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), as well as the Regional Algal Co-ordinating Committees (RACC).

The State Algal Advisory Group provides the over arching policy advice and framework for the management of fresh water and marine blooms. Membership of the State Algal Advisory Group is made up of the relevant NSW State agencies, NSW local government and the Murray Darling Basin Authority. While each member is responsible for a specific area of management and technical information, the NSW Office of Water is the lead agency for water management in New South Wales.

The Office of Water's responsibilities in algal management are:

  • to provide RACC, SAAG and TAG co-ordination
  • to take a lead role in managing the risk of algal blooms in fresh waters by coordinating algal monitoring, management and public information (media and web based information) in surface waterways and storages where no other management organisation has a role
  • to liaise with other agencies affected by the algal bloom in order that an integrated risk management approach is taken
  • to perform a knowledge broker role and facilitate communication between regional stakeholders and the State body responsible for algal management and provide regular updates of algal management resource material
  • to identify knowledge gaps and encourage scientific research to provide new information to enhance algal management
  • to co-ordinate and manage regular algal information on behalf of stakeholders and ensure that water users and other stakeholders are informed

In 2013, the Office of Water prepared the Draft: Algal Risk Management Sub-Plan for endorsement by the State Emergency Management Committee in 2014.

The purpose of the draft plan is to provide the framework for a whole-of-government approach to algal risk management in order to minimise the impact of harmful algal blooms in water bodies in NSW.

Conferences and reports

Study to determine cyanobacterial presence using a YSI fluorometer

A Yellow Springs Instruments water quality sonde was used for the detection of phycocyanin and chlorophyll-a along the Murray and Lower Darling Rivers during 2008-2009. This examined whether the in-situ quantification of phycocyanin by fluorometry could be used to determine the abundance of cyanobacteria. This study found that in-situ phycocyanin fluorometry could be adopted as a tool for cyanobacterial management provided that the equipment used has a comparable performance to YSI and that it not be used in turbid water.

Scientific Visits to North America program

Dr Lee Bowling, Principal Limnologist and State Algal Coordinator in the Environmental Evaluation and Performance Branch of the NSW Office of Water was awarded an international travel grant under the Australian Academy of Science's Scientific Visits to North America program to study developments in cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) management in Quebec, Canada during September 2009.

Read Dr Bowling's report on his visit, including the activities undertaken and the outcomes gained, below:

National Cyanobacterial Workshop 2009

The National Cyanobacterial Workshop organised by the NSW Office of Water took place on 12 and 13 August 2009 at Parramatta, with around 110 attendees representing water management organisations, government agencies and research groups from all States and Territories. The workshop was sponsored by the NSW Office of Water, the Sydney Catchment Authority and Water Quality Research Australia. Presentations were delivered by 33 speakers who gave updates on recent events and issues, current research, and monitoring, testing and treatment.