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Toxic blue-green algae alert issued for some lakes in Dawson, Gosper, Loup, Lancaster, Richardson, Kimball counties

Toxic blue-green algae alert issued for some lakes in Dawson, Gosper, Loup, Lancaster, Richardson, Kimball counties

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The state has issued health alerts for harmful algal blooms, also known as toxic blue-green algae, at Johnson Lake and four other lakes.

Besides Johnson Lake in Dawson and Gosper counties, alerts were issued for Calamus Reservoir in Loup County, Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County, Kirkman’s Cove Lake in Richardson County and Oliver Reservoir in Kimball County.

In addition, Wagon Train Lake in Lancaster County, Rockford Lake in Gage County and Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County continue to be on health alert.

Samples taken earlier this week at these lakes were above the health alert threshold of 8 parts-per-billion of total microcystin (a toxin released by certain strains of blue-green algae). This is a lower threshold than previous years, based on recommendations issued in 2019 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Previously, the State of Nebraska had set a limit of 20 ppb, but adopted the new limits after concluding that the new EPA threshold is based on the best scientific evidence available and protects public health.

When a health alert is issued, signs are posted to advise the public to use caution, and designated swimming beaches are closed. 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 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 52 public lakes since mid-May. The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly through the end of September. Sampling results for harmful algal blooms and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on the website of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, http://dee.ne.gov.

The state’s monitoring is conducted at public lakes with swimming beaches and high public activity. Harmful algal blooms may also be present in other lakes in Nebraska that are not tested, so the public should use caution if they see signs of algal blooms.

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