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

August 21, 2009

CONTACTS
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 for Merritt, Bluestem and Rockford Lakes


State-issued health alerts for toxic blue-green algae continue this week for Merritt Reservoir (Cherry County), Bluestem Lake (Lancaster County), and Rockford Lake (Gage County).

Samples taken at the three listed lakes were below 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). However, as this is the first week below the threshold for the three lakes, they remain on alert.

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 the 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 safely 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, 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 Toxic Algae Fact Sheet. )

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