The state has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae at the Martin Bay area of Lake McConaughy. This is the only health alert currently in effect, and it only affects the Martin Bay portion of Lake McConaughy.
Weekly sampling has been conducted at 50 public lakes in Nebraska since the beginning of May. Samples taken earlier this week at Martin Bay 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.) Martin Bay is located at the northeast end of Lake McConaughy, and due to low water levels, the bay is currently not connected to the main lake. Because only the isolated Martin Bay area appears to have toxic blue-green algae, the alert is only for that area and not the main portion of Lake McConaughy.
The alert will continue at the Martin Bay 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.
When a health alert is issued, signs are posted to advise the public to use caution, and the Martin Bay swimming area will be 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 in Martin Bay. People can still use the public areas for camping, picnics and other outdoor activities.
The lakes will continue to be monitored weekly throughout the 2013 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.