NDEQ News
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Health Alerts Issued for Iron Horse Trail, Willow Creek -
Alerts Continue at Pawnee, Branched Oak


The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Iron Horse Trail Lake in Pawnee County and Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County. Alerts continue at Pawnee Lake and Branched Oak Lake in Lancaster County.

Samples taken earlier this week at Iron Horse Trail and Willow Creek 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 are still in effect at Pawnee and Branched Oak because levels were high 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. Do not let pets get in the water or drink from the lake. 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 throughout the 2016 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 attached Fact Sheet.)