Public Urged Be Cautious After Sightings Of Blue Green Algae In Barrow Reservoir

A possible sighting of blue green algae has been reported at Lower Ormsgill Reservoir, in Barrow.

The Environment Agency has received reports of the algae, but it has not been able to take samples as its testing lab is not currently operational following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orsmgill Reservoir image by Christina Howker

As a precaution, members of the public are urged to avoid any skin contact with the water – nor to let pets swim in it or drink it.

The algae occur naturally in inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes. During a bloom, the water becomes less clear and may look green, blue-green or greenish-brown.

Cyanobacteria – or ‘blue-green algae’ – can produce toxins which can kill wild animals, livestock and pets.

They can also cause harm to people, including rashes after skin contact and illness if swallowed.

Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but you can’t tell just by looking at them, so Environment Agency officials state it is safest to assume they are.

Blue green algae

Warning signs will be installed around Lower Ormsgill Reservoir to alert people to the issue.

Back in June the algae was spotted in other parts of Cumbria including,; Ullswater, Windermere at Brockhole, Derwentwater, Grasmere and Rydal.

Emma Brass, principal environmental health officer, said: “We are urging people to be cautious following these reports to the Environment Agency.

“Dogs should be kept well away from the water and if people come into contact with water that could contain the algae they should wash in clean water.”

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