CURRENT indicators are pointing towards a higher likelihood of a Gippsland Lakes algal bloom this summer, according to the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Authorities are keeping a watchful eye on the lakes as the weather warms up and the potential for algae blooms increases.
The DSE conducts year-round monitoring of algal levels in the Gippsland Lakes.
During winter, monitoring has been done monthly.
In the spring and autumn months monitoring takes place fortnightly and during the summer it will be stepped up to weekly.
DSE Gippsland algae management co-ordinator Dr Daniel Mainville said monitoring provided information on algal trends in the lakes, which would help predict any potential blooms so that the department was prepared to respond to them.
“This time last year we were already seeing low levels of Nodularia species, but so far this year, none have been detected,” he said.
“While that is good news, it’s still difficult to predict the type, timing and extent of a bloom as it’s so dependent on weather conditions, water temperature, salinity levels, inflows to the lakes and many other factors.”
However, he said algal blooms were a natural occurrence and, as seen in 2008, not all blooms were toxic.
He said DSE communicated regularly with tourism industry bodies and other Gippsland Lakes stakeholders to share information and ensure that any impacts from a potential bloom were managed and minimised.
Monitoring would continue throughout the summer and communities would be kept up to date with information about any algal blooms.
Dr Mainville said his information would be provided through the usual outlets including local media and visitor information centres.
Information will also be available at www.water.vic.gov.au and circulated to tourism operators.