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Issued jointly from the ssued jointly from the
Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
UN-L Water Quality Extension Program

For Immediate Release
June 17, 2016

Contact
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Leah Bucco-White, DHHS, (402) 471-9356
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553

Health Alert Issued for Harlan County Reservoir; Alert Continues at Swan Creek; Alert Ends at Pawnee

Lincoln—The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Harlan County Reservoir in Harlan County.  An alert also continues to be in effect at Swan Creek Lake #5A, (also known as Willard Meyer Recreational Area) in Saline County.   A health alert has ended at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County.  

Samples taken earlier this week at Harlan County Reservoir 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.)  Although readings at Swan Creek Lake were low this week, the alert continues to be in effect, because lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below the threshold before the alert is discontinued. The alert has ended at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County because this was the second consecutive week that the lake had low readings.

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 avoid activities that could involve accidental ingestion of water and to avoid full immersion in water.  People can still use the public areas for camping, picnics and other outdoor activities.

Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May.  The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2016 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 attached Fact Sheet.)
 
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