Warning to dog owners of potential toxic algae in Sunderland's Herrington Country Park in warm summer months

Dog owners and are being warned to keep their pets away from ponds in Herrington Country Park over a risk of toxic blue-green algae – harmful to humans and potentially deadly to dogs – which can bloom in freshwater during the warm summer months.

Council chiefs are advising members of the public to keep themselves and their dogs away from ponds and lakes at this time of year due to potential toxic blue-green algae that can appear in summer months.

A sign is posted up next to water in the park stating: “Danger. Blue-green algae currently exists in the lake, there is a severe risk to health from blue-green algae if it comes into contact with humans and animals.

"Testing is taking place and further updates will appear in due course.”

Signs in Herrington Country Park. (Photo by Ian McClelland Media)

However, council chiefs say there is currently no blue-green algae present at Herrington Country Park – but it can form blooms and scums in freshwater during warmer months.

It is understood that the health risks to humans are reportedly small however it could cause serious harm to animals should they swim in or drink the affected water.

Around 200 fish are believed to have been killed at Herrington Country Park when the algae was found in the lake in 2021.

Blue-green algae can bloom in Herrington Country Park in the summer months. (Photo by Ian McClelland Media)

Previously The Environment Agency said that Blue Green Algae is a naturally occurring environmental phenomenon that becomes more likely during periods of warm, settled, dry weather.

The city council said it is working continuously with the Environment Agency carrying out routine testing.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and the council's Cabinet Member for Clean, Green City said: “There is currently no blue-green algae present at Herrington Country Park.

"However, as blue-green algae can pose risks to both public and animal health when it forms blooms and scums in freshwater during the warm summer months, we would advise the public to keep themselves and their dogs away from ponds and lakes at this time of year.”

The City Council are advising dog owners to avoid lakes. (Photo by Ian McClelland Media)
Picture of the algae in 2021. Photo: Garry Wallace.