Lake Burley Griffin water quality is monitored for recreational use from mid-October to mid-April.
Sampling of Lake water is undertaken each Monday during the season with results available by Thursday afternoon (Friday when the sampling Monday was a public holiday). Ten Lake recreational sites are monitored:
From time to time, when levels of blue green algae or bacteria increase, the NCA will place alerts, warnings or closures at affected areas around Lake Burley Griffin. All alerts, warnings and closures are in accordance with the ACT Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality (ACT Health, 2014) and reflect the following:
This area has elevated blue green algae, but remains OPEN to both Primary and Secondary Contact Recreation, however some susceptible individuals may experience skin irritation, hay fever-like symptoms or flu-like symptoms after contact with affected water. Water users should shower after water contact and avoid submersion.
This area has high levels of blue green algae and is CLOSED to Primary Contact Recreation. Swimming, bathing, novice Secondary Contact Recreation, and windsurfing etc. are currently not permitted. This areas remains open to Secondary Contact Recreation (sailing, canoeing, rowing, etc). Persons engaged in Secondary Contact Recreation should be careful to limit any water exposure and should shower after contact with the water.
There is an increased risk of adverse health events from water exposure. Symptoms of exposure may include skin/mucosa irritation, flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal illness. Event organisers should ensure that participants are aware of the blue-green algae alert level, associated exposure risks and provide adequate showering facilities for after events.
This area is CLOSED to Primary Contact Recreation due to extreme levels of blue green algae. Swimming, diving, bathing, novice Secondary Contact Recreation, and windsurfing are currently not permitted. While this area remains open to Secondary Contact recreation (sailing, canoeing, rowing etc), individuals should be careful to limit any water exposure and should shower after contact with the water. There is an increased risk of adverse health events from water exposure. Symptoms of exposure may include skin/mucosa irritation, flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal illness.
People should not engage in Secondary Contact recreation unless:
Event organisers should ensure that participants are aware of the blue-green algae alert level, associated exposure risks and provide adequate showering facilities for after events.
This area is CLOSED to Primary Contact Recreation due to increased bacteria levels. Swimming, diving, bathing, novice Secondary Contact Recreation, and windsurfing are currently not permitted. Adverse health reactions may include intestinal illnesses, such as self-limiting gastroenteritis, which may often be of short duration, respiratory illness, ear infections and skin and eye problems.
Swimming should be avoided for several days after heavy rainfall as bacterial levels are strongly affected by such events.
This involves whole-body contact with the water, in which the entire body or the face and trunk are frequently immersed, or the face is frequently wet by spray, and where it is likely that some water will be swallowed, inhaled, or come into contact with ears, nasal passages, mucous membranes or cuts in the skin. Examples of Primary Contact Recreation include swimming, bathing, and windsurfing. Due to the increased risk of becoming immersed, novice participation of Secondary Contact Recreation is included in these.
This may involve incidental contact with the water in which only the limbs are regularly wet and in which greater contact with the water is unusual. There may be occasional and inadvertent immersion through accidents (e.g. slipping into the water). In these cases, showering is recommended. Examples of Secondary Contact Recreation include boating, sailing, canoeing, rowing and other water craft activities.
The National Capital Authority (the NCA) manages a comprehensive water quality monitoring program to:
The NCA's Water Quality Program includes:
The Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Updates can be used to find information about alert levels. This information can inform users of potential hazards or risks and the level of caution needed during periods of alert. The NCA will report water quality results and enforce restrictions to sections of the Lake when required, for public safety reasons. Additionally, water safety signage at swim beaches, boat ramps and other recreational areas provide information on water quality and Lake safety measures, when required.
Ongoing advice from ACT Health is that swimming should be avoided for several days after periods of heavy rainfall as bacteria can be strongly influenced by such events.
The water quality conditions in Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, the Molonglo River, Molonglo Reach, the Murrumbidgee River, Paddy's River and the Cotter River are monitored by the ACT Government. Advice for these recreational lakes and waters is found on the Transport Canberra and City Services website.
Designated swimming areas in Lake Burley Griffin are sampled for water quality according to the ACT Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality.
Sampling for primary contact recreation (swimming) is intended for submersion of the whole human body and not applicable for domestic animals of varying size who may also drink the water, therefore increasing their exposure level. Tolerance levels for exposure to declining water quality are calibrated to the average human body’s size and weight, domestic pets do not fit within this tolerance zone.
More information for off leash, on leash and prohibited areas for dogs found here.
Canberra’s stormwater drains carry water to an extensive network of streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes – including Lake Burley Griffin. These provide habitat for fish, frogs and birds while improving the liveability of the city. Help us improve and care for the water in Lake Burley Griffin. How can you prevent pollutants from entering the waterways
||Wash your car on the grass.
Do not let the soap enter the drains, or use a water-recycling car wash facility. Phosphates from detergents encourage algal growth.
||Do not flush chemicals or paint into stormwater drains.
This means fresher water for fish, birds, frogs and for everyone else.
||Prevent leaves and grass clippings from washing down the drain.
Use smaller amounts of fertilisers and garden chemicals.
||Put rubbish in bins, paper and plastics in the recycling and do not throw cigarette butts in the gutter.
This helps to keep streams and beaches clean.
||Clean up after your dog.
Animal waste promotes harmful bacteria in the water.
||Compost garden waste and use it to improve garden soil.
Green waste when released into the waterways results
in algal blooms.
The NCA encourages safe recreation on Lake Burley Griffin. Information about how to stay safe on the Lake can be found here.
Historical water quality data is available upon request. Contact the NCA on 6271 2888 or email email@example.com
More information about the monitoring of water quality in Lake Burley Griffin can be found here.