FURTHER water quality tests could prevent some Bathurst residents from ever experiencing the debilitating and fatal effects of motor neurone disease (MND), a retired doctor has said.
MND is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and causes a person to lose the ability to move, breathe and swallow, while the brain keeps working.
There is no cure for MND and death usually occurs within two to three years.
Only 10 per cent of cases are inherited, while the remaining 90 per cent are due to environmental factors.
Jim Blackwood, who was a general practitioner in Bathurst for 38 years, said there is growing evidence suggesting that certain toxins found in blue green algae are a "major contributor" to MND.
Having seen people die from MND, Dr Blackwood felt compelled to make Bathurst Regional Council aware of the links between blue green algae and the disease.
At Wednesday night's council meeting, he encouraged staff to consider conducting further water quality tests at Chifley Dam, which would specifically look for the presence of the toxins BMAA and DAB.
"The increasingly frequent and severe outbreaks of blue green algae over Chifley Dam, and the boom in water-based activities, especially the water park, may have catastrophic consequences for all exposed to Chifley water," Dr Blackwood said.
"Council presently monitors for algal numbers, but not for the toxins BMAA or DAB. Algal numbers are not necessarily an indication of the amount of toxins present.
"The Principle of Prudence dictates that, where a potential consequence is great, every effort must be made to ensure this does not occur.
"Bathurst council must do everything in its power to minimise the risk of these dreadful diseases."
Following his address on Wednesday, Dr Blackwell received strong applause from the public gallery.
At this time, there is a red level blue green algae alert, which has been in place at Chifley Dam for months.
When speaking to the Western Advocate, Dr Blackwood said that the people he felt were most at risk were people who were regularly in contact with the dam water.
He also said it didn't matter how high the algae alert level was, as the toxins could still be present in the water when algal numbers were low, making regular testing for BMAA and DAB essential.
"It is essential that council acknowledge that there is a risk, it is essential that they inform Bathurst residents of this potential risk and it is essential that they undertake expert and regular testing of the dam water for the presence of these toxins," Dr Blackwood said.
"If there is any suggestion that the toxins are present, any exposure to the Chifley Dam water needs to be totally prohibited.
"It's seriously awful. It's not proven and its only one of the potential causes [of MND], but the consequence is so dire.
"The thought that someone might get MND and that Bathurst residents may be dying of it keeps me awake at night."