issued jointly from the
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Brian McManus, Department of Environment and Energy, (402) 471-4223
Leah Bucco-White, DHHS (402) 471-9356
Jerry Kane, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5008
For Immediate Release
August 27, 2010

Health Alert Issued for Willow Creek Lake; Alerts Continue for Kirkman’s Cove, Red Willow, Merritt Reservoir

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Willow Creek Lake near Pierce. Alerts continue for Kirkman’s Cove near Humboldt, Red Willow Reservoir near McCook and Merritt Reservoir in Cherry County.

Samples taken earlier this week at Willow Creek Lake and Red Willow 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.) Although levels were below the threshold at Kirkman’s Cove and Merritt Reservoir this week, they will continue to be on alert due to high readings from samples taken at the two lakes the previous 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. 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,h ttp://

(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.)