Brain-eating virus forces lake closure

CLOSED: AGL Macquarie has announced the permanent closure of the Hunter Valley's Lake Liddell.

CLOSED: AGL Macquarie has announced the permanent closure of the Hunter Valley's Lake Liddell.

A HUNTER VALLEY lake has been permanently closed to the public after the discovery of a brain-eating virus.

The closure of Lake Liddell, located between Muswellbrook and Singleton, is to take effect immediately – a major blow to the local tourism industry.

The lake was closed late-March after the virus naegleria fowleri, also known as brain-eating amoeba, was first discovered.

AGL Macquarie confirmed on Friday a subsquent investigation had led the power company to make a decision to permanently close the lake to protect the public health.

“Since closing the lake earlier this year, AGL has been assessing the long term future of public access to the lake,” AGL Macquarie general manager Ian Brooksbank said.

“The decision to close the lake permanently has been a difficult one.

Mr Brooksbank said safety was the company’s highest priority and a thorough risk assessment process had reinforced the decision.

“We acknowledge this decision may be disappointing for regular Lake Liddell users,” Mr Brooksbank said.

“AGL is committed to the safety of our employees, contractors, neighbours and our local community, and the closure assists in limiting exposure to infection from amoeba in the lake.”

“We have been meeting with the Lake Liddell Recreation Area Reserve Trust, Muswellbrook Shire Council and the NSW Government to work through the implications of Lake Liddell’s permanent public closure.”

Discussions with all relevant Hunter Region tourism bodies are set to be held over coming weeks.

The Lake Liddell Recreation Area is still operational.

While the lake itself is out of bounds to the public, the Lake Liddell Recreation Area is still operational.

“The facility remains open to campers, as well as users of GJs by the Lake,” park manager Ged Elphinstone said.

“People can still enjoy the laser tag, indoor skydiving and rock-climbing activities on offer.

“We’re very disappointed in the closure of the lake, but it will not stop us from ensuring GJs continues to grow.”

For any inquiries, phone Mr Elphinstone 0477 551 174.

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