Newsroom > DHHS News Release

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
August 20, 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 Swan Creek 5A, Alert Continues at Willow Creek Lake, Alert Ends at Blue Stem Lake and Kirkman’s Cove

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Swan Creek 5A Lake in Saline County, and an alert continues at Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County.  Health alerts have ended at Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County, and Kirkman’s Cove in Richardson County, because both lakes have had 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 Swan Creek 5A and Willow Creek 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 health alert at Willow Creek was first issued on September 2, and the lake has continued to have high readings in the two subsequent weeks. 
 
The alerts will continue at the two 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 attachedFact Sheet.)
 
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