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NDEQ begins weekly public lake sampling

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and its partners have begun weekly sampling of public lakes across Nebraska.

This sampling will test for harmful algal blooms (HABs), also known as toxic blue-green algae, and E. coli bacteria at 51 public recreational lakes across the state. The testing takes place annually from May through September. In coordination with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the state will issue Health Alerts for HABs when test results indicate the toxin microcystin are at levels above 20 parts per billion.

Lake samples are typically collected on Mondays and results are posted to NDEQ’s website at https://deq-iis.ne.gov/zs/bw/ on Fridays. While viewing this webpage, those interested can also subscribe to NDEQ’s Beach Watch ListServe to receive email updates on lake conditions.

While the record-breaking March flood waters carried contaminants, dilution and nature have reduced or eliminated most concerns for inundated lakes. E.coli bacteria is a year-round concern, but levels should be decreasing with warmer weather and more sunshine. UV rays will kill most E. coli bacteria. Those with access to private lakes who are concerned about bacteria contamination can contact their local laboratories or call NDEQ at (402) 471-2186.

NDEQ’s sampling partners include the Central District Health Department, Nebraska Public Power District, Upper Republican Natural Resources District, Lower Republican NRD, South Platte NRD, Middle Niobrara NRD, Lower Loup NRD, Nemaha NRD, Lower Elkhorn NRD and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.