Gerianne Rudd, of Brisbane, at Lake Ainsworth where blue green algae has been found.
Gerianne Rudd, of Brisbane, at Lake Ainsworth where blue green algae has been found. Marc Stapelberg

FROM THE DEEP: Toxic algae doesn't deter swimmer

POTENTIAL toxic and harmful muck lurking in Lake Ainsworth has not deterred one keen distance swimmer one iota.

New tests reveal the levels of blue-green algae at Lake Ainsworth have worsened, but Brisbane's Gerianne Rudd, adorned in a black body suit, "ninja mask" and goggles, decided to risk swimming laps of the popular Lennox Head lake anyway.

 

Warning signs erected at the lake explain the situation: "Harmful algae may be present in this water. Contact may cause serious harm to humans and animals".

The lake is currently at "red alert" level and remains closed.

Despite seeing the signs and knowing the risks, Ms Rudd said she was not put off by the presence of blue-green algae in the lake.

"I visit Lake Ainsworth to swim all the time, and today I will be swimming some distance," the 64-year-old said. 

"I am not worried because I am older ... I have done a lot of wilderness walking in my life and I believe that every enterobacter known to human kind is living in my gut already.

"Blue green algae causes eye irritation and I'm covered because I have my goggles. Blue green algae is actually Cyanobacteria and many are toxic, so I may be an idiot to do this."

People have been urged to stay away from the lake, with Ballina Shire Council staff advising against swimming or other recreational activities.

The council said the lake will remain closed for at least another two weeks, but it is likely to be even longer - it will be closed for Australia Day.

"Ballina Shire Council wish to make it clear that toxicity levels in the Lake are at high levels and urge swimmers to not use Lake Ainsworth during the 'Red Alert' period," A Ballina Shire Council spokeswoman said.

"It is disappointing that people are ignoring the signage and putting their health at risk by swimming in the Lake. We have plenty of other options in the Ballina Shire where people can stay cool including our patrolled beaches, Shaws Bay and the Ballina and Alstonville Pools."

Testing has been increased to twice a week. Results are available on the council's website.