Warn­ing fu­els call to open river path

Kaikoura Star - - NEWS -

Sue Natuka took time off work to come and see the river for her­self.

She said farm­ers up stream al­low their cat­tle to roam all over the riverbed.

‘‘I came down to support Ann be­cause not ev­ery­one can stand up and ask for some­thing to be done here. It’s the worst year we’ve had. And this has never hap­pened be­fore.’’

The phormid­ium (ben­thic cyanobac­te­ria) ex­tends from the main stem of the river down into the la­goon south of the Peketa camp­ing ground.

Dr Humphrey said: ‘‘ The mats are de­tach­ing and will be ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in the la­goon, so I would ad­vise that the la­goon be avoided. The ben­thic mats may also ex­tend fur­ther up­stream and river users should keep an eye out for dark brown or black mats which can pro­duce tox­ins harm­ful to peo­ple and an­i­mals.’’

Dr Humphrey said ex­po­sure may cause skin rashes, nau­sea, stom­ach cramps, tin­gling and numb­ness around the mouth and fin­ger­tips.

‘‘If you ex­pe­ri­ence any of th­ese symp­toms, visit your doc­tor im­me­di­ately, also let your doc­tor know if you’ve had con­tact with dark brown/black al­gal mats or wa­ter in this area.’’

Boil­ing the wa­ter from the river does not re­move the toxin and there­fore should not be con­sumed, Dr Alis­tair Humphrey said.

‘‘An­i­mals that show signs of ill­ness after com­ing into con­tact with al­gal mats should be taken to a vet im­me­di­ately.

‘‘Peo­ple should re­main out of the wa­ter­ways un­til the warn­ings have been lifted.’’

Ap­pears as dark brown/ black mats at­tached to rocks along the riverbed.

It of­ten has a strong musty smell and al­gal toxin con­cen­tra­tions can vary over short pe­ri­ods with chang­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions.

Although high river lev­els will re­move the al­gal bloom, de­tached mats can ac­cu­mu­late along the shore and in­crease the risk of ex­po­sure to tox­ins.

If a health warn­ing is in place avoid con­tact with the wa­ter.

Although dis­trict or city coun­cils may place warn­ing signs, th­ese may not be seen at the nu­mer­ous river ac­cess points, hence the need for peo­ple/ dog-walk­ers to treat ev­ery low-flow­ing river cau­tiously.

En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury Kaik­oura could not be reached for com­ment.

Green la­goon: Ann Hen­nessy, left, and Sue Natuka stand on the gravel bar block­ing the la­goon from the sea. The reg­u­lar users of the Kahutara River are per­plexed by a lack of ac­tion to im­prove the health of the river.

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