OGALLALA, Neb. — Lake Ogallala is safe despite dead fish floating in the water, officials say.

About 50 dead trout have been found so far, said Darrol Eichner, fisheries biologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Some are in the lake but most are in a canal below it.

Reports of the problem started on Friday and continued through the weekend.

“So many times when dead fish show up, people think there's a toxic waste problem,” Eichner said. “At this point, we have no reason to believe there are any human health concerns. Recreational activities can continue.”

Eichner said low amounts of dissolved oxygen in the water appear to be causing the die-off. Tests on Monday morning found oxygen levels in the canal were below 3 parts per million molecules of water, which is the bare minimum needed for trout survival, he said.

Eichner said anglers have reported seeing “stressed fish” breathing heavily and moving lethargically at the surface of the water.

“They are primarily rainbow trout, which are considered to be bioindicators of the health of an environment because they are sensitive,” Eichner said. “It's a little bit of a puzzle as to why this is happening now and not weeks ago.”

The kill happened at a bad time. Located on the east side of Kingsley Dam, Lake Ogallala is a popular Labor Day destination.

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