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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

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2015

Contact Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
Leah Bucco-White, HHS Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356

Health Alert Issued for Swan Creek Lake #5A
Alerts Continue at Pawnee Lake, Willow Creek Lake

Lincoln—The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Swan Creek Lake #5A, (also known as Willard Meyer Recreational Area) in Saline County.  Alerts also continue to be in effect at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County and Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County.   
 
Samples taken earlier this week at all three 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.)  The alerts 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.
 
Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May.  The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly through the end of September.  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.)

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