Oliver Reservoir - Health Alert for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)
August 6, 2020
NEBRASKA: On Friday, July 31, 2020 the South Platte Natural Resources District (SPNRD) was notified by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) that the water sample for Oliver Reservoir meets or exceeds the threshold of the toxin, Microcystin, which is associated with the presence of harmful algal blooms. Oliver Reservoir will remain on Health Alert until a new sample tests below 8 parts-per-billion (ppb). Samples are taken weekly.
When a health alert is issued, signs are posted to advise the public to use caution. Swimming beaches are closed during the alert. It is recommended that people, especially children and those with liver disease, kidney damage and weakened immune systems, stay out of the water. Keep pets and animals away from the water and avoid all ingestion of the water. Do not wade or swim in water containing visible algae, and avoid all direct contact with algae. If you do come into contact with algae, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
While boating and fishing are permitted the public is advised to use caution and avoid exposure to the water, particularly any activity that could lead to swallowing the water. If you do boat or ski/tube do not go through the algal blooms.
Camping and public area access is still allowed, and outdoor activities are still encouraged.
Risks and Symptoms: Humans have risks that come from both internal and external exposures (prolonged contact with the skin). Symptoms from EXTERNAL exposure can include skin rashes, lesions and blisters. More severe cases of ingestion/exposure can include mouth ulcers, ulcers inside the nose, eye and/or ear irritation and blistering of the lips. Symptoms from ingestion can include headaches, nausea, muscular pains, central abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Severe cases could include seizures, liver failure, respiratory arrest – even death, although death is rare. The severity of the illness is related to the amount of water ingested and the concentrations of the toxins. Pets and farm animals have died after drinking water containing HAB. Even licking wet fur/hair/paws/feet after they have been in the water has led to deaths. Toxins produced by HABs have been known to persist in water for up to 14 days after the bloom has disappeared.
WHAT IS A HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOM?
Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) are also known as “toxic blue-green algae.” This refers to certain strains of cyanobacteria that produce toxins. HABs can occur under the right combinations of water temperature, low water depths, and nutrients (such as high nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations).
HABs often are a distinct blue-green color but may also appear to be green, brown or red.
MORE INFORMATION: For more information on NDEE testing, alerts and safety please visit their website at http://www.deq.state.ne.us/. You can visit their site for Sampling Results at https://deq-iis.ne.gov/zs/bw/. A “Fact Sheet” is available at http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/ENV042607.
The SPNRD has information and safety precautions posted on their website, http://www.spnrd.org and http://www.spnrd.org/Html/recreation.html; questions can also be answered by calling the South Platte NRD office at 308-254-2377.