Samples have been collected from Acacia Bay for testing for toxin-producing algae species, but weather has hampered monitoring work at other sites at Lake Taupō today.
Choppy water at five of six sites prevented Waikato Regional Council staff, with the assistance of Taupō District Council, from collecting viable samples.
However, some of the regional council's environmental monitoring team will base themselves in Taupō tonight to enable them to carry out further sampling at first light, if the weather is favourable. If not, council staff will collect samples at the first available opportunity, or on Friday as scheduled, as we understand the urgency of these results to the Taupō community.
The samples will be tested by NIWA to determine if it poses a risk to humans and animals. NIWA has committed to turning the results around so the results can be known as soon as possible.
Health warnings issued by the Medical Officer of Health remain in place for Five Mile Bay, Acacia Bay, the main lake front in Taupō, Whakaipo Bay, Kinloch Beach and Halletts Bay. The algae blooms appear to be largely confined to the shorelines in the affected areas, however they may shift depending on water flows and wind. People are advised not to paddle, wade, swim, or participate in any recreational activity that might involve any direct contact with the algae or swallowing of water in the affected areas.
Signage has been erected by Taupō District Council at the six affected beaches.
Toxic algal species often multiply to high levels during periods of warm, sunny weather. In lakes they can form extensive green to black-coloured mats that settle on rocks and the lake floor. Significant clumps sometimes break off and float free, collecting on the water's edge.
On some of the south-eastern beaches there is a bright green lettuce-like algae that is harmless and should be left on the shoreline, because it’s an important part of the ecology of the lake. On the northern beaches and at Halletts Bay, algae which washes ashore should also be left untouched.
Meanwhile, other locations have been inspected by Waikato Regional Council over the past five days and there is no current concern. They are: Two Mile Beach, Whareroa South Beach, Whareroa North Beach, Omori Stream, Omori boat ramp, Kuratau Beach, Pukawa boat ramp and beach, Waihi Scenic Reserve, Animaria Place at Waitetoko, Waitetoko/Southern Mission Bay, Mission Bay rest area, Motutere Bay motor camp and boat ramp and Waitahanui.
As toxic algae can occur in other areas of the lake at any time, people are advised to make their own visual assessment of areas not included in the health warning.
Members of the public who notice algal blooms in other areas can report them to the Waikato Regional Council on 0800 800 401. More information is available by visiting waikatoregion.govt.nz.
For health advice, people should call the Healthline on 0800 611 116. For advice on drinking water and beach access call the Taupō District Council on 0800 ASK TDC (0800 275 832).