Advisories posted for ‘majority’ of Utah Lake as harmful algal bloom grows

FILE: A photo of an algal bloom

UTAH LAKE — A harmful algal bloom first spotted in Utah Lake’s Provo Bay is growing, and health experts are extending the advisory to the majority of Utah Lake.

The Department of Environmental Quality first warned Utahns about the algal bloom in Provo Bay on June 29, but Wednesday the department stated the bloom is growing.

Health officials will be posting advisories for  “the majority of the lake”, the DEQ stated Wednesday. The warning signs will caution people to keep themselves, their pets and other animals from making contact with the water.

Sample test results from the last week showed that cell count concentrations have been spreading and increasing in density.

Those tests confirmed small amounts of toxins, but below levels that warrant a complete closure of the lake. The bloom is not present in the Jordan River, which Salt Lake County has confirmed after inspecting ponds tied to the Jordan River.

The current levels of cyanotoxins in Utah Lake are not considered a threat to livestock, but the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food will continue to monitor data and provide updates to the agriculture community. UDAF advises livestock owners to locate an alternative water source should the cyanotoxins reach unhealthy levels in the future.

While blue-green algae are a natural part of many freshwater ecosystems, certain conditions can lead to rapid growth and result in large blooms. Those large blooms can create harmful levels of cyanobacteria.

High levels of nutrients combined with warm temperatures, abundant sunlight, and calm water contribute to the growth of such algal blooms, which is why they often occur in summer. This bloom was reported a few weeks before the one-year anniversary of the discovery of a large algal bloom that shut down Utah Lake last year.

Symptoms of exposure to cyanobacteria include headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes an allergic-like reaction from skin contact. Anyone with concerns about possible exposure to cyanobacteria should contact the Utah Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 or consult with their physician.