Health Alerts Issued for Willow Creek Reservoir and Harlan County Reservoir

News Release
For Immediate Release: 7/19/2019

Issued jointly from the
Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Brian McManus, Department of Environment and Energy, (402) 471-4223
Leah Bucco-White, DHHS, (402) 471-9356
Cara Pesek, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5565


The state has issued new health alerts for harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, at Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County, and Harlan County Reservoir in Harlan County. These are the first health alerts that have been issued for the 2019 recreational season.

Samples taken earlier this week at the two lakes were above the state's health alert threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb) of total microcystin (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae.) The alerts will continue at the lakes for at least two more weeks, because lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below the threshold before the alert is discontinued.

When a health alert is issued, signs are posted to advise the public to use caution, and designated swimming beaches are closed during the alert. Recreational boating and fishing are permitted, but the public is advised to use caution and avoid exposure to the water, particularly avoiding any activity that could lead to swallowing the water. Do not let pets get in the water or drink from the lake. People can still use the public areas for camping, picnics and other outdoor activities.

Weekly sampling has been conducted at 51 public lakes since the beginning of May. The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly through the end of September. Sampling results for harmful algal blooms and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEE's web site,

(For more information about potential health effects of harmful algal blooms, what to look for, and steps to avoid exposure, please refer to the attached Fact Sheet. To view the weekly data for the lakes sampled, go to

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