Friday, March 30, 2007

Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve re-opened

By Tando Mfengwana
30 March 2007

The waterbody of the Rietvlei Wetlands Reserve in Cape Town has been reopened to the public, following its closure due to toxic blue-green algae found in the water last year.

Visitors to the Vlei will receive leaflets informing them of the dangers of coming into contact with the algae.

Reserve manager Koos Retief says that toxin levels have since dropped hence the re-opening.

“Up to now we’ve established that the toxin levels have dropped well within acceptable standards for recreational waterbody, so we don’t fear that there is immediate threat to the public…”

Retief said that if a person comes into contact with the blue-green algae they should contact a doctor immediately or face serious implications.

“If you have physical contact with blue-green algae scum, you could have serious skin irritation resulting from that, also if you were to ingest water contaminated with the blue-green algae toxin that could cause gastro-intestinal disease. And also you could have complication with your breathing with your lungs if you were to inhale water spray that contains blue-green algae.”

Although the scum has not completely disappeared, reserve staff remains wary of it, and will report any reoccurrences.

Once any is spotted, it will be reported to the City Health Scientific Services Branches. If they find the toxin to be at dangerous levels in the vlei waters, this would result in the vlei being closed to the public again.

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