Officials issue warning as toxic algae spreads in Utah Lake

UTAH LAKE -- The Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday a harmful cyanobacteria bloom in Provo Bay has spread to other parts of Utah Lake.

The public, their pets and livestock are warned to stay out of Provo Bay, Lincoln Marina, Sandy Beach and the Utah Lake State Park.

The warning comes after the DEQ took samples, which tested positive for levels of toxins that exceed the recommended safe levels.

“It is important for the public to be aware of the additional warnings on Utah Lake,” says Eric Edwards, Deputy Director of Utah County Health Department. “Utah Lake is a huge lake with some areas not currently affected. We would remind those recreating to be mindful of certain areas of the lake that have samples exceeding the recreational levels for toxins.”

Water quality crews will continue to collect samples and monitor the situation. Warning signs have been posted in the affected areas to warn the public about the presence of potentially harmful algal blooms.

Algal blooms are a natural part of many freshwater ecosystems, and they can grow rapidly and reach toxic levels under the right conditions, namely high levels of nutrients in the water combined with warm temperatures, abundant sunlight and calm water. The toxic blooms have been present at Utah Lake during summer months in recent years.

The blooms of blue-green algae pose risks to humans, wildlife and domestic animals.

“If they see areas of green water, scummy conditions, mats, just to avoid it.  And really, you don’t want to ingest it," said  Donna Kemp Spangler with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “You may experience some skin irritation, you can contact the Utah Poison Control and they can ask you some questions to find out where you’re at risk.”

"Symptoms of exposure include headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes allergic- like reactions from skin contact," the DEQ states. "For concerns about possible human exposure, call the Utah Poison Control Center at 800-222- 1222, or your physician."