The National Environment and Planning Agency, NEPA, says flushing of the Outram River in St. Mary is to begin soon.

The procedure has become necessary because NEPA has confirmed that the discoloration of the water way in recent weeks is a phenomenon known as Red Tide.

In a statement this afternoon, NEPA explained that Red Tide is made up of numerous microscopic plant algae also known as phytoplankton.

It says a laboratory analysis of samples collected at the river confirmed the phenomenon.

NEPA says the overgrowth of algae is attributed to changes in environmental conditions, specifically a significant increase in the levels of nutrients in the water.

The build-up of algae is also attributed to the blockage at the mouth of the Outram River and the low flows of the river, as a result of the drought conditions being experienced.

NEPA says it’s been in dialogue with the St Mary Municipal Corporation that has indicated that over the coming days the berm at the mouth of the river will be partially opened to allow for the controlled release of water from the area and the flushing of the river.

NEPA is also urging the public to stay away from the river until corrective measures are taken as the water is not safe for consumption or household use.