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NDEQ Expands Bacteria Sampling of Diverted Floodwaters; Results Posted Online


Updated October 4, 2013 -- Due to the fact that some floodwaters from the South Platte and Platte River are being diverted into a number of Nebraska canals and reservoirs, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has expanded and extended its weekly sampling plan for bacteria. There may be significantly higher levels of bacteria in floodwaters, both moving and standing, so the state health and environmental agencies advise the public to avoid contact with floodwaters, including the waters that have been diverted into canals and reservoirs.

Sampling will continue at three reservoirs with public swimming beaches – Sutherland Reservoir, Maloney Lake and Johnson Lake -- that are normally sampled weekly from May through September for bacteria and have results for toxic algae and bacteria posted on NDEQ’s web site. In addition, NDEQ has established additional sampling locations which will provide weekly information about bacteria levels in the Tri-County Supply canal system, which includes the reservoirs of Jeffrey, Midway, East Midway, Gallagher, Plum Creek, Johnson, and Elwood. Samples will also be taken at several locations along the Platte River.

Results are posted below. The tables were first posted on Sept. 27 and were updated on Oct. 4. The table below shows three columns of results – the first column of results is from data that was compiled September 19, from samples taken prior to the flood diversion. The second column of results was compiled the week of September 27, in most cases based on samples taken after flood water had been diverted into the canals and reservoirs. The third column shows results taken the week of Oct. 4. Samples will be taken weekly and results will be posted on the web every Friday.

NDEQ intends to continue weekly sampling at these floodwater diversion locations until flood waters subside. Bacteria readings above 235 colonies of bacteria per 100 ml of water are considered a higher risk, meaning that there may be a greater likelihood of developing an illness if you consume water containing bacteria above these levels. Bacteria in the lake or river water can cause gastrointestinal problems (such as diarrhea) if swallowed. The state advises people to avoid contact with these waters. If you have been in contact with flood water, either flowing or standing, avoid touching your mouth and eyes, and wash off as soon as possible.

The table below lists the reservoirs and sampling locations that are being sampled weekly for bacteria. Any readings that exceed 235 colonies of bacteria per 100 ml of water will be in red bold type.

Sutherland/Maloney Reservoirs
Sampling Location
Bacteria Results
9/19/2013
(pre-flood diversion)
Bacteria Results
9/27/2013
Bacteria Results
10/04/2013
17
15
24
2
28
13


Tri-County Supply Canal (TCSC) System
(includes the reservoirs of Jeffrey, Midway , East Midway, Gallagher, Plum Creek, Johnson and Elwood)
Sampling Location
Bacteria Results
9/19/2013
(pre-flood diversion)
Bacteria Results
9/27/2013
Bacteria Results
10/04/2013
TCSC near North Platte
NA
214
91
Jeffrey Reservoir
NA
179
31
TCSC south of Gothenburg
4
101
78
East Midway Reservoir
11
210
33
Plum Creek Reservoir
1
74
291
44
222
548

Platte River
Sampling Location
Bacteria Results
9/19/2013
(pre-flood diversion)
Bacteria Results
9/27/2013
Bacteria Results
10/04/2013
Brady
687
2522
133
Cozad
61
2419
78
Overton
dry
3654
99
Grand Island
24
727
488
Duncan
dry
dry
2419

*Note – Sutherland Reservoir, Lake Maloney and Johnson Lake were among 50 public recreational lakes that are sampled weekly from May through September for toxic algae and bacteria. Clicking on their names above will link you to sampling results collected through 2013.

Bacteria levels can become elevated during flooding and other heavy rainfall events. Click here for more information about bacteria and its potential health effects.