People are advised not to enter Lake Ainsworth following an outbreak of toxic blue-green algae.
People are advised not to enter Lake Ainsworth following an outbreak of toxic blue-green algae. Marc Stapelberg

LAKE CLOSED: outbreak of toxic blue-green algae

LAKE Ainsworth is closed until further notice following an outbreak of toxic blue-green algae.

A 'red alert' - the highest warning - was issued by Ballina Shire Council on Tuesday.

Under the alert the council has warned the community not to swim or undertake other recreational activities which brings them into direct contact with the water.

The toxic algae may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. It can also be deadly for pets.

Warning signs have been erected and will remain in place while the high levels of blue-green algae are present.

It comes after a number of residents including 20 children reported falling ill with vomiting and diarrhoea after swimming in the lake in Lennox Head earlier this year.

In response, NSW Shadow Health Minister and Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord moved a motion expressing his deep concern about the outbreak and called on the Berejikilian Government to provide assistance to Ballina Shire Council.

"The State Government had an obligation to find out the source of the nutrients which was causing the appearance of toxic blue-green algae," Mr Secord said.

Shadow Minister for Sport Lynda Voltz said she was worried about the children and athletes that utilise the NSW Government's Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre for school and family camps, sporting events, weddings and community programs.

"Coming into contact with blue-green algae can have serious health concerns - especially, if a person's immune system is compromised or pregnant," Ms Voltz said.

Blue-green algae usually appears as a green paint-like scum on the water, on the edges or can clump throughout the water.

If a body of water has the algae it will look dirty, green or appear discoloured and generally has an odour.

People who are concerned they may have been affected by blue-green algae are advised to seek medical advice.

Ballina Shire Council will continue to monitor the lake and the alert will be lifted as soon as the high levels of algae dissipates.