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ISSUED JOINTLY FROM THE
Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2013

CONTACT
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Marla Augustine, HHS Communications & Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553 

Health Alerts Issued for Bluestem Lake, Kirkman’s Cove, Willow Creek Lake; Alert Ends at Martin’s Bay

 The state has issued health alerts for toxic blue-green algae at Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County, Kirkman’s Cove in Richardson County and Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County.  The only other health alert that had been in effect, for the Martin Bay portion of Lake McConaughy, has ended due to low readings for two consecutive weeks.
 
Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May.  Samples taken earlier this week at Bluestem Lake, Kirkman’s Cove and Willow Creek Lake 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 three 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 swimming areas will be closed during the alert.  Recreational boating and fishing are permitted, but the public is advised to avoid activities that could involve accidental ingestion of water and to avoid full immersion in water at the three lakes.  People can still use the public areas for camping, picnics and other outdoor activities.
 
The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2013 recreational season.  Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site, http://deq.ne.gov.
 
(For more information about potential health effects of toxic blue-green algae, what to look for, and steps to avoid exposure, please refer to the Fact Sheet.)
 
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