Algae which can harm dogs reduced but still present at nature reserve pond

Downham Market community nature reserve the Willows. Picture: Downham Market town council.

Downham Market community nature reserve the Willows. Picture: Downham Market town council. - Credit: DMTC

The amount of algae in the water of a Norfolk nature reserve has dropped since Christmas, though some remains.

West Norfolk Council (WNC) warned dog walkers about signs of blue-green algae at the Willows Nature Reserve in Downham Market last December.

While it is naturally occurring, it can be dangerous to dogs.

It reported the issue to the Environment Agency and sought its advice on how to deal with it.

At the time, the borough council issued a warning for people to not go near the water or allow their dogs to come into contact with it.

But a spokesperson for the council said conditions have since improved after it came to their attention last year, though some algae is still present around the edge of the pond.

Signs were installed at the site to warn visitors of its presence with a warning not to enter or allow dogs to come into contact with it.

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In an update, a WNC spokesperson said: "There is still some algae present around the edge of the pond, but the condition has improved, also the signage regarding the algae is still in place.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The Environment Agency was notified last summer of blue-green algae in the pond at the Willows Nature Reserve and advised West Norfolk Council to place warning signs around it.

"We’ve had no reports of algae in the pond since then.

“Blue-green algae occurs during hot weather and is poisonous to mammals. Dog owners are advised to keep their pets on a lead in areas where blue-green algae is present."

A message from the council in December said: "There are signs of blue-green algae at the pond.

"Blue-green algae is naturally occurring but can be potentially harmful to dogs and humans.

"We have reported the presence of the algae to the Environment Agency.

"While not all forms of this algae form toxins, it is impossible to tell by looking at it, so it is safer to assume that it is toxic."

If you spot blue-green algae you should call the Environment Agency's 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.

For more information on advice on algae search algal blooms on

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