Warning fuels call to open river path
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.