Health warning as annual algae monitoring begins on local waterways

Waterways across Angus are being monitored for blue-green algae.
Waterways across Angus are being monitored for blue-green algae.

Lochs and reservoirs across Angus are being watched for hazardous blue-green algae as part of NHS Tayside’s annual monitoring programme.

And the health authority has issued a warning to the public to steer clear of any algal blooms in the area’s waterways.

Blue-green algae are tiny organisms which develop naturally in lochs, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and in the sea. They are a common seasonal occurrence and waters which have been affected by agricultural, domestic or industrial discharges are most at risk of developing the algae.

This can multiply during the summer months and discolour the water which appears green, blue-green or greenish brown and they can clump together to form a scum on the surface of the water. At the shoreline, algal crusts may appear brown to almost black in colour.

People and animals can be affected as a result of direct contact with affected water and the public, especially water sports enthusiasts, anglers and dog owners, are being advised to be alert to the blooms as temperatures rise. In Tayside, Backwater, Clatto, Den of Ogil, Glenogil, Lintrathen, and Monikie resevoirs are being monitored as are Forfar Loch, Loch Lee, Rescobie Loch, Loch Turret and Lower Stobsmuir Pond.

Dr Jackie Hyland, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “Canoeists, wind surfers and swimmers who come into contact with the algal scum or who accidentally swallow affected water can suffer from complaints such as skin rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, or pains in muscles and joints.

“The risk to small animals like dogs is significant over the summer months as they tend to drink more water in the heat and may eat shoreline algal crusts.

“The public should be reassured that public water supplies are always treated to prevent any harmful effects to health due to blue-green algae.”

Anyone who finds a body of water they suspect is affected by blue-green algae and which is not displaying a warning sign, should contact the environmental health service on 08452 777778.