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
July 27, 2018
.

Health Alerts Issued for Big Indian and Willow Creek Lakes; Alerts Continue at Rockford and Maple Creek; Alert Ends at Holmes Lake


The state has issued new health alerts for harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, at Big Indian Lake in Gage County and Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County. Alerts continue at Rockford Lake in Gage County and Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake in Colfax County. An alert has ended at Holmes Lake in Lincoln.

Samples taken earlier this week at Big Indian Lake and Willow Creek Reservoir 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 Rockford Lake and Maple Creek Lake did not test high for microcystin this week, the lakes will remain on alert for at least one more week. The alert has ended at Holmes Lake after two consecutive weeks of low readings.

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 51 public lakes since the beginning of May. The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2018 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.

(For more information about potential health effects of harmful algal blooms, what to look for, and steps to avoid exposure, please refer to the attached Fact Sheet. To view the weekly data for the lakes sampled, go to https://deq-iis.ne.gov/zs/bw/.)