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
UNL Water Quality Extension Program
For Immediate Release
September 11, 2015
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
Leah Bucco-White, DHHS Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356
Health Alert Issued for Pawnee Lake;
Alert Continues at Willow Creek Lake
The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County. An alert also continues to be in effect for Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County. Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May.
Samples taken earlier this week at the east and west beaches at Pawnee Lake and at the swimming beach at Willow Creek Lake 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.) The alert will continue at the lakes for at least two more weeks, because 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 2015 recreational season. Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site, http://deq.ne.gov.
(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.)