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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
UN-L Water Quality Extension Program

July 18, 2008

Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Marla Augustine, HHS Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
Tadd Barrow, UN-L Water Quality Extension, (402) 472-7783


Health Alert Issued for Willow Creek Reservoir; Alert Continues at Red Willow Reservoir

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County. A health alert also remains in effect for Red Willow Reservoir near McCook, which was first placed on alert last week. The alert has ended for Holmes Lake in Lincoln.

Samples taken July 14 at Willow Creek 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 at Red Willow Reservoir 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 beaches 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,

(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  pdficon.gif (914 bytes)Fact Sheet.)