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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
UNL Water Quality Extension Program

For Immediate Release
August 15, 2014

Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Marla Augustine, HHS Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9108
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553

Health Alerts Issued for Bluestem Lake and Oliver Lake; Alerts Continue at Iron Horse Trail Lake,
Willow Creek Lake; and Swan Creek Lake 5A

A health alert for toxic blue-green algae has been issued for Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County and Oliver Lake in Kimball County.  Alerts also continue for Iron Horse Lake in Pawnee County, Willow Creek Lake 5A in Pierce County and Swan Creek Lake 5A in Saline County.

Samples taken earlier this week indicated the Bluestem and Oliver lakes were above the state’s health alert threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb) of total microcystin (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae.) Alerts continue at Iron Horse Trail, Willow Creek and Swan Creek 5A, which all had tested above the health alert threshold last 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 lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2014 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 Fact Sheet.)