Toxic algae takes over the Leeds & Liverpool

Published: Friday, 03 September 2010

THE  closing of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal has resulted in an health warning as toxic algae takes over the stagnant waterway.

People are being advised to avoid contact with the water in the canal as the blue-green algae rapidly spreads, helped by the sunlight on the still water, Alan Tilbury reports.

Being blamed

The 60 odd miles of waterway is closed due to 'water shortage', and it is this closure that is being blamed for the outbreak.

British Waterways admits it is the lack of water movement that has allowed the water to stagnate and bacteria to grow, while high winds helped it to spread.

Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pendle, warned:

"It is a serious issue, so putting up a lot of signage is the only thing they can do at the moment. I hope the canal is reopened as soon as possible, but British Waterways has indicated that we could still be looking at mid October before it happens."

Give it a wide berth

Rishton Councillor, Stan Horne, also warned:

"It is down to British Waterways to combat it and people should give it a wide birth. But what about the ducks and wildlife that are on there?

"Children shouldn't play around there and people shouldn't go walking their dogs in case they drink or go in the water if it is dangerous."

Cath Ferguson, British Waterways Environment Manager stated:

"British Waterways is asking visitors to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and its reservoirs to continue to enjoy the waterways, but avoid contact with the water.

"If members of the public do come into contact with blue-green algae affected water, they should remove all contaminated clothing and wash all exposed skin with clean water as soon as possible, and particularly before eating or drinking.

"If they are in any doubt about their welfare after contact with algae, they should seek medical advice. Farmers and pet owners should ensure that their animals do not have access to affected water."

Seriously ill

The bacteria can leave people seriously ill and anyone affected is being urged to see a doctor. Direct contact may cause allergic reactions including itchy eyes, skin irritation and hay fever like symptoms as well as stomach upsets.
The algae can also be fatal to dogs and other animals.