All of Utah Lake under warning because of ‘potentially harmful algal bloom’

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The Utah Health Department has updated the advisory warnings for Utah Lake and Payson Lake pertaining to the algal bloom. (Photo courtesy DEQ)

Health officials placed Utah Lake at “warning” level on Wednesday afternoon because of a “potentially harmful algal bloom.”

Instead of being concentrated in one specific area, the warning in for Utah Lake as a whole. Recent water sample results revealed that the lake has cell concentrations significantly over the recommended warning threshold level. The recreational warning threshold is 20,000 – 10 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml).

The algal bloom levels measures vary at different areas of the lake:

  • Saratoga Springs: 1,425,058 cells/ml.
  • Two miles west of Vineyard: 40,442 cells/ml.
  • Lincoln Beach/Marina: 6,534,446 cells/ml
  • Swedes Access (Provo Bay): 118,408 cells/ml
  • Utah Lake State Park north of dike: 7,805 cells/ml
  • One mile southeast Bird Island: 18,516 cells/ml
  • Utah Lake Provo Bay Ski Dock: 79,933 cells/ml
  • Sandy Beach: 2,559,265 cells/ml

Toxin levels for microcystin exceeded 5 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at Sandy Beach Marina, Lincoln Marina, and Saratoga Springs Marina. These levels exceed the recreation health-based threshold for a Warning Advisory.

“Water with these levels of concentration in the algal bloom pose health risks,” says Eric Edwards, deputy director of Utah County Health Department, in a press release. “To protect the health of people and animals that use the lake, it is important for the public to be aware of the WARNING on the lake.”

The public, their pets and other animals should stay out of the Lake until the blue-green algal bloom levels recede.

Algal blooms are caused by high level of nutrients in the water combined with warm weather, sunlight and calm water, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Wastewater treatments are one of the largest nutrient contributors to Utah Lake followed by fertilizer runoff. These bright-green or blue-green blooms produce harmful toxins called cyanobacteria. Symptoms include headache, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and skin rashes. Last year, an algal bloom in Utah Lake was first reported in July 2017.

Anyone concerned with exposure to Utah Lake’s algal bloom should contact their doctor of Utah Poison Control at (800) 222-1222. For concerns about animals, call their veterinarian. DEQ will continue to provide updated information at habs.utah.gov.

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Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages UtahValley360.com for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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