Lakewide toxic algae warning advisory issued for Utah Lake | Central Utah County

Health officials issued a sea-wide warning for Utah Lake after finding harmful algal blooms or HABs with toxicity levels above the safe recovery threshold.

The warning, issued Friday by the Utah County Health Department, says samples taken from open lake water on July 13 show toxigenic cyanobacterial cell counts of 1.8 million cells per milliliter, well above the Utah division of Water Quality and the Utah Department of Health Recommended Warning Threshold of 100,000 cells per ml.

The ocean-wide warning comes just days after health officials issued a warning for American Fork Beach and maintained warnings in Lincoln Beach and Provo Bay due to HABs above the safe recovery threshold.

On July 7, a DWQ toxic algae monitoring team visited Utah Lake and observed algal blooms “on American Fork Beach, American Fork Marina near the boat ramp, boat ramp and picnic area at Saratoga Springs Marina, Lindon Beach south of Lindon Marina and the beach north of Lindon Marina, ”wrote DWQ in a blog post.

Marinas will remain open to boat traffic to reach Utah Lake, but water recreation at Provo Bay, Lincoln Beach, and the American Fork Marina “should be avoided,” according to the county health department.

HABS, which, according to DEQ, occurs “when naturally occurring cyanobacteria multiply very quickly in water to form green or blue-green water, scraps or mats” and “can produce strong cyanotoxins that pose serious health risks to humans, pets and livestock”. “Have been an issue at Utah Lake and other bodies of water for years.

Also on Friday, the Southeast Department of Health issued a hazard notice for the Scofield Reservoir, “indicating a potential for acute poisoning and long-term illness from harmful algal blooms,” advising visitors not to swim, water-ski, or boat the reservoir.

On June 1, health officials downgraded a hazard notice at the North Fork Virgin River in southern Utah to a warning “based on sampling results in May 2021,” but advised visitors “not to dip your head in the water.”

Symptoms of human exposure to HABs include rashes, hives or blisters from skin contact, a runny nose, sore throat, and asthma, while symptoms of exposure in animals include weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and convulsions.

To stay safe, health and water authorities recommend avoiding swallowing water while swimming, washing hands with clean water before preparing or eating, cleaning fish well and disposing of viscera, keeping animals away from the water and showing signs of Recognize algal blooms.

If you have any concerns about potential human or animal exposure, call the Utah Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 or report a bloom by calling the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s 24-hour emergency number at (801) 536 Call -4123.

Connor Richards reports on government, the environment, and South Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.

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