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 26, 2016
.

Health Alert Ends at Branched Oak, Alerts Continue at Pawnee,


Iron Horse Trail Lake and Willow Creek Lake

The state has ended a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Branched Oak Lake in Lancaster County. Alerts will continue for at least one more week at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County, Iron Horse Trail Lake in Pawnee County and Willow Creek Lake in Pierce County.

Samples taken earlier this week at all four lakes were below 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.) However, the alerts are still in effect at Pawnee, Iron Horse Trail Lake and Willow Creek Lake because levels had been 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.)