Toxic Lake

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Health officials have closed an eastern Nebraska lake due to toxic algae.

Sarpy and Cass County Health Director Jim Sitrick says three dogs have died after drinking water from Buccaneer Bay Lake just west of Highway 75 south of the Platte River.

One man fishing at the lake first noticed the problem three days ago. Travis McIntosh says he saw eight dead blackbirds and suspected the deaths may have been tied to the water.

Luke Kappas says his dog wandered into the water Saturday. Kappas says the dog had green stains on his paws when it came out of the water and was dead an hour later.

Sitrick says he talked with state environmental officials and based on what they told him, he asked "the emergency management coordinator, the sheriff, to do what they could to close the lake."

Closing a lake is rare in Nebraska. It means the public and its pets should say out of the water until further notice.

Tests conducted by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Wednesday confirmed the algae is toxic. It's called anabaena and it can kill you if swallowed.

Toxic algae can form naturally but the growth is accelerated if there is excess fertilizer runoff in the lake or if there is a poor septic system.