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
UN-L Water Quality Extension Program

September 19, 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


Toxic Blue-green Algae Health Alerts Continue at Pawnee and Willow Creek; Alerts End at Kirkman’s Cove and Merritt Reservoir

State-issued health alerts for toxic blue-green algae continue in effect at Pawnee Reservoir (Lancaster County) and Willow Creek Reservoir (Pierce County). Merritt Reservoir (Cherry County) and Kirkman's Cove Reservoir (Richardson County) were both removed from the health alert list.

Samples taken earlier this week at one beach at Pawnee Reservoir were still just 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). Willow Creek reservoir also tested above the limit. These two reservoirs will remain on the list for the next two weeks.

Kirkman's Cove and Merritt reservoirs both showed readings that had dropped below the action level for the second week in a row, and have been removed from the list. Lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below 20 ppb before the alert is removed.

Signs have been posted to advise the public to use caution, and the swimming beaches at both lakes 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 lake. People can still use the public areas for picnics and other outdoor activities.

The state will continue to conduct weekly sampling at 47 recreational lakes through September. Monitoring will end for the year after the September 29 sample. 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.)