Issued jointly from the
Department of Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
UN-L Water Quality Extension Program
August 4, 2017
Brian McManus, Department of Environmental Quality, (402) 471-4223
Leah Bucco-White, DHHS, (402) 471-9356
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553
Health Alert Issued for Pawnee Lake; Alert Continues at Swan Creek 5A
The state has issued a new health alert for harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County, and an alert continues at Swan Creek Lake 5A in Saline County.
Samples taken earlier this week at Pawnee Lake and Swan Creek Lake 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. An alert has ended at Kirkman’s Cove.
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.
(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