Swimming closed at Branched Oak & Pawnee Lakes

By: Channel 8 Eyewitness Newsroom

Press Release from Department of Health and Human Services

Health Alerts Issued for Branched Oak, Alert Continues at Pawnee – Alerts End at Kirkman’s Cove and Iron Horse Trail Lake 

The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at Branched Oak Lake in Lancaster County and an alert continues at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County.  Alerts have ended at Kirkman’s Cove in Richardson County and Iron Horse Trail Lake in Pawnee County.    

Samples taken earlier this week at Branched Oak 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.)  Although readings were low this week at Pawnee, the alert is still in effect at the lake because levels had been high last week.  Lakes that are on health alert must have two consecutive weeks of readings below the threshold before the alert is discontinued.  Alerts ended at Kirkman’s Cove and Iron Horse Trail Lake after two consecutive weeks of low readings.

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 avoid activities that could involve accidental ingestion of water and to avoid full immersion in 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 in Nebraska since the beginning of May.  The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2016 recreational season.  Sampling results for toxic algae and bacteria will be updated every Friday and posted on NDEQ’s web site,http://deq.ne.gov