Five Nebraska lakes under alert; more in Iowa
August 25, 2009

Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality says that Bluestem Lake, Merritt Reservoir, and Rockford Lake are under health alerts right now for the presence of toxic blue-green algae, and Branched Oak Lake and Louisville Lake #2 are experiencing high E. coli bacteria levels. In Iowa, Backbone Lake, Beeds Lake, and Nine Eagles Lake are under warnings for E. coli and about 15 other lakes, mainly in southern Iowa, are reported as "impaired" right now. E. coli is used as an indicator of water quality since it's often associated with the presence of untreated fecal waste. Blue-green algae are directly harmful as carriers of toxic bacteria. Both problems are tied to the presence of nutrients in the water caused by untreated runoff. Among other things, the nutrients are often the result of excessive fertilizer and manure runoff from agricultural property, over-fertilization of lawns, waste from pets and wild animals, and to a generally lesser degree, insufficiently-treated municipal wastewater.

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last revised August 2009