State warns of harmful algae and E. coli in Nebraska lakes
On Friday, the state of Nebraska issued a health alert for harmful algal blooms at Big Indian Creek Reservoir.
WYMORE, Neb. (KLKN) – On Friday, the state of Nebraska issued a health alert for harmful algal blooms (HABs) at Big Indian Creek Reservoir.
These mass growths of algae in water can produce toxins that can sicken or even kill people and animals if accidentally swallowed and can create a rash if it comes in contact with the skin.
Nebraskans like Woody Hawkins of Beatrice are well aware of the dangers of toxic blue-green algae to both people and animals.
“You got to watch when you’re swimming and not get your head under the water,” Hawkins said. “If you got open wounds don’t go in the water. Don’t let your dog get in the water because your dog will drink the water.”
Hawkins, a lifelong Nebraskan, says he goes to the Big Indian Lakes in Wymore often with his family. He started noticing the algae about ten years ago, but this year stands out.
“It’s getting so hot so fast that I think the algae blooms are going to be the worst they’ve seen,” he said.
Algae develops quickest in shallow lakes that do not have much of a current. Hawkins says he makes sure to keep his family and his pet dog out of algae-infested waters during the hot summer months.
“You got to use your senses a little bit,” he said. “Some places the wind blows it out the other way so you’re fine but you’ll see that bright green, lime green, slime green stuff, stay away from that.”
High concentrations of E. coli bacteria in Nebraska lakes is another concern during the summer months. The Nebraska Department of Environment conducts weekly checks of algae and E. coli in state lakes.
This week, six lakes, including Pawnee Lake and Bluestem Lake, were found to have higher than normal levels of E. coli, which can cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea if swallowed.