Understanding the New Health Standard for Nebraska Public Beaches - HABs

Understanding the New Health Standard for Nebraska Public Beaches - HABs

Heading to the Beaches of Nebraska!

It’s amazing how much people are drawn to water.  With this recent hot spell, it’s time for us to head to the beaches of Nebraska! Fifty four of Nebraska’s most popular public beaches are monitored weekly from May through September for E. coli and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). 

HAB Monitoring in Nebraska - New Health Standard

The water at Nebraska’s beaches is monitored for a toxin called microcystin, which is produced by HABs.  Nebraska has followed the World Health Organization’s safety recommendation since it began monitoring the toxin and issued Health Alerts when microcystin levels climbed above 20 ppb. As researchers have learned more about HABs and their health effects, the EPA has determined that a new health recommendation of 8 ppb is needed to keep swimmers and beach-goers safe. State agencies have jointly reviewed the new recommendation and determined the best available science was used to reach this conclusion and in 2020 will be using a standard of 8 ppb microcystin for triggering a Health Alert.

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HABs and Your Favorite Beach

This change will likely affect your favorite beach at some point in the future. The majority of the monitored public Nebraska beaches will reach this level at some point during the summer.  When this happens, the beach will remain on a Health Alert until it has two consecutive tests under 8 ppb microcystin. When a beach is on Health Alert, it is recommended the No Contact with the water occur.

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Find Out More

Want to know how your favorite beach is doing? Check out https://deq-iis.ne.gov/zs/bw/

Get weekly updates on the status of your favorite beach by joining the email listserv. To subscribe to the listserv, send an email to listserv@listserv.nebraska.gov with "SUBSCRIBE DEE-BeachWatch (your name)" in the body of the message (leave the Subject line blank).


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