Health warning issued for Okawa Bay at Lake Rotoiti and Lake Okaro

A health warning has been issued today for Okawa Bay at Lake Rotoiti and for Lake Okaro. The health warning is based on the results released today for levels of cyanobacteria, or algal bloom, in water samples, visual assessments and satellite imagery provided by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. 

Today’s warning extends previous health warnings issued for Lake Rotorua, the Ohau Channel, Te Weta Bay and the Okere Arm of Lake Rotoiti, as well as for the upper Kaituna River and at Waitangi on the Kaituna River. There are also health warnings for cyanobacteria in place at Lake Maraetai and Lake Rotoehu. 

“It is important to avoid any activity which results in contact with the lake water when a warning is in place,” says Dr Lynne Lane, Medical Officer of Health at Toi Te Ora Public Health. 

Cyanobacteria can release toxins which can trigger asthma and hayfever symptoms, skin rashes, stomach upsets, and in some cases neurological effects such as tingling around the mouth, headaches, breathing difficulties and visual problems. “Algal mats and scum may also accumulate along the shoreline of the lake and so it’s especially important that parents ensure that children avoid contact with these as they may be toxic,” says Dr Lane. 

Dogs are particularly at risk and should also be kept away from the shoreline. Elsewhere in New Zealand there have been reported deaths of dogs that have eaten algae on shorelines. 

Dr Lane advises the public to keep an eye out for signs of algal blooms if using lakes or rivers in our region. “Algal blooms can develop rapidly and unpredictably. If the water looks discoloured, has an unusual smell, or has green or brown particles floating in it then it is best to avoid contact with it.” 

Up-to-date information on health warnings for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts is available through these channels:

20230324 Health warning issued Okawa Bay Lake Rotoiti and  Lake Okaro