Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are a common seasonal occurrence in Victoria and a natural component of most aquatic systems, including streams, lakes, estuaries and the sea.
Individual cells are very small and are normally not visible in a water body.
But numbers can increase rapidly and blooms, or scums, become easily visible across the water surface.
Blooms can be triggered by nutrient levels, low inflows, lower storage volumes and warmer weather conditions.
Blooms can be unsightly, ranging in colour from dark-green to yellowish-brown. They develop a paint-like consistency as they dry out and often have a pungent smell.
Large numbers of blue-green algae in water bodies can produce toxins that can affect the health of humans, animals, birds and livestock as well as harm the environment.
In Victoria, blue-green algae is monitored regularly by water corporations and local waterway managers through sampling and testing.
An algae outbreak is managed based on the use of the water body and the density and nature of the bloom.
Farm dams are quite susceptible to algal blooms. Further, they are difficult to reclaim once a bloom has occurred.
It is better to prevent the build-up of predisposing conditions rather than trying to reclaim a contaminated dam.
More information is available on the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources website:
For the latest information on blue-green algae events you should contact the manager responsible for the water body, such as the local council, water corporation or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
Further information can be found on the following websites: