Northeast Nebraska lake still unsafe for swimmers

PIERCE, Neb. -- As summer kicks off in Nebraska and people of all ages are trying to beat the summer heat by activities like swimming, one local lake is still not an option.

That lake is Willow Creek Lake, and it is part of the state recreation area in Pierce. The area is a popular nature site for families who come to camp and enjoy the weather with activities like fishing and boating. However, after years of the Lower Elkhorn National Resources District trying to clean up the water and the harmful toxic algae in it, swimming in the water is still not possible.

With several other lakes around Nebraska deemed safe for swimming, people from Northeast Nebraska continue to wonder why it's still so unsafe to swim in.

"The study has indicated that the issue, or the cause, is nutrients coming into the lake from the tributaries, and there is the potential for some nutrient load within the lake that cycles within the lake that contributes to this phenomenon," said LENRD Assistant General Manager Brian Bruckner.

As Willow Creek Lake continues to annually be an issue with water quality, officials want people to know the solutions are indeed much more complicated.

"We feel like we have a decent handle on what could be done," Bruckner said. "But I think there's definitely some unanswered questions so that we can target resources in a manner to where we're going to get the biggest bang for our buck."

LENRD also told News Channel Nebraska they once considered draining the lake altogether but it was quickly dismissed as a solution since the area as a whole offers too much value for the surrounding community to enjoy.

With the continued water quality issues at Willow Creek Lake, officials say swimming in the lake has an unknown future.