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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 3, 2016
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 Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County
Lincoln—The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County. This is the first health alert issued in the 2016 recreational season. Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May.
Samples taken earlier this week at Pawnee Lake’s west beach 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.) Pawnee Lake is sampled at two locations; the east beach was below the health alert threshold, but the west beach readings cause an alert to be in effect for the entire lake. The alert will continue at the lake 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 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.
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