THE public has been warned of the possible presence of harmful blue green algae in a Barrow reservoir.

According to Barrow Council, the Environment Agency has received reports of the algae in Ormsgill Reservoir but has not been able to take samples as its testing lab is not operating amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of the public are urged to avoid any skin contact with the water - and not to let pets swim in it or drink it.

The algae occurs naturally in inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes.

During a bloom, the water becomes less clear and may look green, blue-green or greenish-brown.

Cyanobacteria - or ‘blue-green algae’ - can produce toxins which can kill wild animals, livestock and pets.

They can also cause harm to people, including rashes after skin contact and illness if swallowed.

Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic, but it cannot be known just by looking them, so Environment Agency officials state it is safest to assume they are.

Barrow Council announced that warning signs will be installed around Lower Ormsgill Reservoir to alert people to the issue.

Ormsgill councillor Bill McEwan said: “We’ve had blue green algae there in the past.

“It’s a dangerous substance.

“If anyone is around and they spot it then they should be aware and stay clear because of how dangerous it is.”

It is advised to call the Environment Agency to report algal blooms on the incident hotline 0800 80 70 60.

At the end of last month a similar warning was made about the presence of blue green algae in the Lake District.

The harmful bacteria was sighted in Windermere and Coniston.

Steve Gaskell, park management leader at the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), said: “The EA has received reports of possible blue-green algae in both Windermere and Coniston recently and relevant lakeshore landowners have been advised by the agency to put up signs to warn of this possibility.”