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25 September, 2022
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Athalassa national park in troubled waters

Officials warn public to stay away from toxic waters, Commissioner calls for better coordination


State authorities are warning the public to avoid contact with the water at the lake in Athalassa National park, following reports of dead fish floating upside down at the surface.

The Forests Department says dead fish in the lake at Nicosia’s Athalassa park were associated with the discovery of cyanobacteria, formerly called blue-green algae, which could release high concentrations of toxins in the water.

Officials reportedly ruled out any infection citing no chances that a pathogen might have infected the fish.

However, the matter still remained open according to local reports, with officials reiterating their calls to the public to stay away from any contact with the water at the lake.

Too many agencies involved

Environment Commissioner Klelia Vasiliou said the problem was caused by the lack of fresh water flowing into the lake, adding that the issue was being exacerbated by a decentralized system with delegated authorities unable to push for a single solution.

The Environment Commissioner is calling for better coordination through a single coordinating mechanism that can examine all options for supplying oxygen to the lake

“In this case, there are issues dealing with the forests department, there are water issues so they deal with the Water Development Board, fish issues so there is the Fisheries and marine research department,” Vasiliou said, adding that “there is also the issue of biodiversity that deals with the Environment office, and so on.”

The Environment Commissioner also said she sent a letter to Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis, calling for better coordination.

“We need to have a single coordinating mechanism that can examine all options by which water can be oxygenated and the ecosystems at the lake can be better managed,” Vasiliou said.

On Monday, a large number of dead fish was discovered, prompting officials from various state agencies to obtain water samples for testing.

Symptoms from drinking water with cyanotoxins include headaches, nausea, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, mouth ulcers and blistering of the lips.

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