The state has issued new health alerts for harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, at Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County and Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County. Alerts continue at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County, and Swan Creek Lake 5A in Saline County.
Samples taken earlier this week at Bluestem, Willow Creek and Swan 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.) The alerts will continue at the lakes for at least two more weeks, because lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below the threshold before the alert is discontinued. Although Pawnee Lake did not test high for microcystin this week, the lake will remain on alert for at least one more week.
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 use caution and avoid exposure to the water, particularly avoiding any activity that could lead to swallowing the 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 since the beginning of May. The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2017 recreational season. Sampling results for harmful algal blooms and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site, deq.ne.gov.