PEOPLE are being warned to stay away from Apex Park Lake in Burnham-on-Sea due to the presence of potentially toxic algae.

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, that can be fatal to wild animals, livestock and pets was discovered in the water last month and Sedgemoor District Council (SDC) says water samples taken from the lake have tested positive for blue green algae.

A spokesman for the council said: "Water will not be tested again until there are substantial visual changes to the lakes and no scum or the weather changes such as heavy rain and clouds.

" So, in the meantime, user groups have been updated and asked to follow their pre-agreed control measures.

"All guidance/signage should still be followed which also includes a restriction on any permit holders for casual model boat use.

"All the groups who use the lake have been advised. Fishing is permitted, but the rules relating to blue-Green algae provided on permits must be adhered to."

Blue-green algae is a natural phenomenon caused by heat and therefore cannot be removed.

What is blue-green algae?

Algae occur naturally in inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes. When conditions are ideal for growth (i.e. a period of hot weather) an algal bloom can occur. During a bloom, the water becomes less clear and may look green, blue-green or greenish-brown. Scums can form during calm weather when several bloom forming species rise to the surface. This can look like paint, mousse or small clumps.

Cyanobacteria or ‘blue-green algae’, a type of blooming algae, can produce toxins. These toxins can kill wild animals, livestock and pets. They can also harm people, producing rashes after skin contact and illnesses if swallowed.

Algal blooms block sunlight from reaching other plants in the water. They also use up oxygen in the water at night which can suffocate fish and other creatures. Oxygen is also used up when the bloom decays.

The blooms usually occur in the summer but there are no quick or easy remedies for the control of blue-green algae once they appear in a lake or pond.

SDC’s advice is to take the following precautions:

• Do not swim in the water

• Do not let dogs in the water or let them drink it

• Do not swallow the water

• Avoid contact with the algae

• Fish should never be taken from the lake or consumed

• Observe and abide by any warning notices positioned around the water

Despite the presence of blue green algae in the waters of Apex Park Lake, there is still plenty to do and see in the 42-acre park. Visitors can go skateboarding; use the outdoor gym, play facilities, as well as just enjoying a walk and the wildlife. Accessible paths go around the park suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. There are picnic spots, ample free car parking, toilets and a refreshment van offering hot and cold snacks.