PRESS RELEASE
issued jointly from the
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Contact
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Matt Litt, DHSS, (402) 471-9313
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
For Immediate Release
September 10, 2010
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Health Alert Issued for Swan Creek Lake 5A; Alerts Continue at Willow Creek Lake, Red Willow Reservoir

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Swan Creek Lake 5A near Tobias. Alerts continue for Willow Creek Lake near Pierce and Red Willow Reservoir near McCook.

Samples taken earlier this week at the three lakes 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.) The alerts will continue at the three 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 state will continue to conduct weekly sampling at 46 recreational lakes through the 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 Toxic Algae Fact Sheet.)