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
August 13, 2010
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Health Alert Issued for Merritt Reservoir in Cherry County

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Merritt Reservoir in Cherry County. This is the only health alert currently in effect in the state, based on weekly sampling of 46 public lakes across Nebraska.

Samples taken earlier this week at Merritt Reservoir 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.) 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. 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, 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.)