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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

September 2, 2010

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 Alerts Continue for Willow Creek Lake, Red Willow Reservoir; Alerts End for Kirkman’s Cove, Merritt Reservoir

Health alerts will continue over the Labor Day weekend for Willow Creek Lake near Pierce and Red Willow Reservoir near McCook.  Alerts have ended at Kirkman’s Cove near Humboldt and Merritt Reservoir in Cherry County.

Samples taken earlier this week at Red Willow Reservoir and Willow Creek Lake 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). Samples taken this week at Kirkman’s Cove and Merritt Reservoir were both below the alert threshold for the second consecutive week. (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 state will continue to conduct weekly sampling at 46 recreational lakes throughout the 2010 recreational season.  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.)