Issued 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
July 11, 2008
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Kathie Osterman, HHS Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9313
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
Tadd Barrow, UN-L Water Quality Extension, (402) 472-7783
Health Alert Issued for Red Willow Reservoir near McCook; Alert Continues at Holmes Lake
The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Red Willow Reservoir near McCook. A health alert also remains in effect for Holmes Lake in Lincoln, which was first placed on alert last week. The alert has ended for Iron Horse Trail Lake in Pawnee.
Samples taken July 7 at Red Willow Reservoir were above the state’s health alert threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb) of total Microcystins (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae.) Although levels were below the threshold Holmes Lake this week, a health alert remains in effect. Lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below 20 ppb before the alert is removed.
Signs are being posted at both lakes to advise the public to use caution, and the swimming beach at Red Willow Reservoir will remain closed during the health alert. The public is advised to avoid activities that could involve accidental ingestion of water, and to make sure their pets don’t drink from the lakes. People can still use the public areas for picnics and other outdoor activities.
Both lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2008 recreational season. The state is also taking periodic samples at 45 other public recreational lakes through September. Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site, www.deq.state.ne.us.
(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.)