A health alert has been issued for the Harlan County Reservoir in south-central Nebraska. One remains in effect at Swan Creek Lake #5A (also known as Willard Meyer Recreational Area) in Saline County. The health alert for Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County has ended.
Samples taken this week from the Harlan County Reservoir indicate levels of total microcystin (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae) exceeded the state health alert threshold of 20 parts per billion. Readings at Swan Creek Lake #5A were low this week, according to state health officials, but the lake must pass two consecutive rounds of testing before state officials will lift the alert. The alert was lifted for Pawnee Lake after it had readings below the state threshold for two consecutive weeks.
Signs have been posted to warn the public at the affected lakes. Swimming beaches have been closed.
Recreational boating as well as fishing are permitted. The state advises avoiding full immersion in the water during the alert. Public areas for camping, picnics, and other outdoor activities remain open.
The state takes samples from 50 public lakes weekly throughout the summer vacation season.
Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday. Click here for results at the NDEQ’s web site.
(For more information about potential health effects of toxic blue-green algae, what to look for, and steps to avoid exposure, please refer to this Fact Sheet.)