Toxic amounts of algae reported at Omaha’s Glenn Cunningham Lake

Lake Cunningham algae advisory, Gov. Jim Pillen in north Omaha, and fans line up for Steelhouse Omaha's opening concert.
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 11:55 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The public is urged to take caution when visiting an Omaha lake due to harmful algae blooms.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says a health alert was issued Friday for Glenn Cunningham Lake due to toxic blue-green algae.

The DHHS says weekly sampling has been conducted at 55 public lakes since the first week of May. Samples taken earlier this week showed Glenn Cunningham Lake measured above a threshold of eight parts per billion for microcystin — a toxin released by blue-green algae.

Exposure can potentially cause adverse health effects.

In response, the DHHS is advising the public to use caution while at Glenn Cunningham Lake. Boating and fishing are allowed, but the public should avoid being exposed to the water. It’s also recommended to avoid swallowing the water or letting pets in the lake.

'Rock the C' concert series opener canceled

With severe weather expected to roll into the area, Friday night’s opening concert for the “Rock the C!” concert series at Lake Cunningham has been canceled.

Lake Cunningham logo

People can still use the public lake areas for camping and other outdoor activities. Executive Director Brook Bench said the blue-green algae alert won’t affect any activities there; swimming isn’t allowed at the lake, but activities like camping, fishing, kayaking, and sailing can continue as normal.

The Environmental Protection Agency says toxins from algae can be released when they bloom in large quantities and then decay. Large algae blooms can occur when there are enough nutrients in the water combined with warm temperatures.

The DHHS says they test lakes that see a lot of public use, so harmful amounts of blue-green algae could still be present at other lakes that aren’t tested.

Algae blooms often look like large floating mats of decaying, gelatinous and bad-smelling scum.

IMPORTANT HEALTH ALERT: Our staff wanted to inform everyone of the news we received this morning from the Department of...

Posted by Lake Cunningham on Friday, May 12, 2023

Reporter Brent Weber contributed to this report.