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Lake Water Quality Updates

Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Updates

The 2017-2018 Recreational Season has begun and it is now easier than ever to find the current water quality status of Lake Burley Griffin.

Download the free Swim Guide App or visit www.theswimguide.org for up to date Lake Burley Griffin water quality information.

Alerts

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:

MEDIUM BLUE GREEN ALGAE ALERT

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.

CLOSED TO PRIMARY CONTACT DUE TO HIGH BLUE GREEN ALGAE ALERT

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.

CLOSED TO PRIMARY CONTACT DUE TO EXTREME BLUE GREEN ALGAE ALERT

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:

  • they are experienced
  • they are informed of the algal risks and what to do if contact occurs
  • they do not engage in primary-contact during the recreation, and
  • they have access to showing facilities to use immediately after exiting the water.

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.

CLOSED TO PRIMARY CONTACT DUE TO ELEVATED BACTERIA LEVELS

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.

STANDING BACTERIA ALERT

Swimming should be avoided for several days after heavy rainfall as bacterial levels are strongly affected by such events.

Definitions

PRIMARY CONTACT RECREATION

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.

SECONDARY CONTACT RECREATION

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.

Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Monitoring

The National Capital Authority (the NCA) manages a comprehensive water quality monitoring program to:

  • monitor the environmental status of Lake Burley Griffin (the Lake) and
  • advise users about changes in the water quality conditions arising from floods, droughts, elevated bacterial, and algae conditions.

The NCA's Water Quality Program includes:

  • Microbiological monitoring at recreational sites - samples are taken weekly from mid-October to mid-April during the Summer Recreational Season (the Season) at nine recreational sites. Bacteria (enterococci) levels are monitored and analysed in accordance with the National Water Quality Guidelines and ACT Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality (ACT Health 2014). The results are reported weekly during the Season on the Swim Guide website with any alerts and notifications as appropriate.
  • Algae monitoring program - visual inspections are performed throughout the year and water quality sampling and analysis undertaken on samples taken from nine recreational sites from mid-October to mid-April during the Season. Algae (cyanobacteria) levels are monitored and analysed in accordance with the National Water Quality Guidelines and ACT Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality (ACT Health 2014). The results are reported weekly during the Season on the Swim Guide website with any alerts and notifications indicated when required.

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.

Stay safe on Lake Burley Griffin

The NCA encourages safe recreation on Lake Burley Griffin. Information about how to stay safe on the Lake can be found here.