‘Be cautious’ message after report of blue-green algae in Morpeth

Parents and dog owners in Morpeth are being urged to err on the side of caution following a report of potential blue-green algae in the river.

By Andrew Coulson
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 4:55 pm

A resident has been in touch with the Environment Agency and their areas of particular concern for a suspected algal bloom are High Stanners by and under the Oldgate Bridge, and along the promenade to and under the Chantry Bridge.

According to information for the public provided by the agency, it can cause “stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, and skin rashes, though the risk to people is relatively small – animals such as dogs can, however, be more seriously affected”.

In addition, as you cannot tell if an algal bloom in the sea, a lake or river is toxic just by looking at the bloom, it is safest to assume that it is toxic.

Potential blue-green algae in Morpeth town centre has been reported.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “We are aware of a report of a potential blue-green algal bloom in Morpeth.

“On this occasion, the suspected bloom was deemed a natural occurrence due to the recent hot weather and associated low water levels in the river.

“We would advise members of the public to be cautious and keep children and pets away from the water.

“If you suspect blue-green algae, please contact our 24-hour hotline on 0800 807060 so that we can inform relevant landowners and ask them to take the necessary steps to warn the public of potential dangers.”

Northumberland County Council has also been contacted about this. Earlier this month, the local authority put up a warning sign at Druridge Bay after it was confirmed that blue-green algae is present in the lake.

A council spokesman said: “If members of the public encounter blue-green algae, this should be reported to the Environment Agency. At Northumberland County Council sites, members of the public should also alert our staff so that the appropriate measures can be taken to protect the public.

“Blue-green algae normally develops in still water environments, so we have robust processes and procedures in place at our sites with still water bodies (e.g. Bolam Lake Country Park, Druridge Bay Country Park, QEII Country Park) whereby regular inspections are made, site notices are erected when and where necessary and water testing is undertaken.

“We have a duty, like any landowner, to protect the public from hazards at our sites.”