Toxic algal bloom detected at popular Herriman swimming spot

HERRIMAN, Utah – Parents and kids were asked to get out of the water at Blackridge Reservoir on Wednesday after a dangerous and toxic algal bloom was detected.

Along the shoreline at Blackridge Reservoir, visitors will now see white signs sticking out of the ground, which read, “THE WATER AT BLACKRIDGE RESERVOIR HAS BEEN CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.”

Wednesday afternoon, dozens of children and parents were already in the water when they found out it could be dangerous to their health.

“We were out here for like five minutes, all of the kids were in the water and then a guy came up and said there was algae in the water, and we weren’t supposed to be in there,” said Carol Fuchs, a local mom who brought her kids and their friends for a day of swimming.

The Salt Lake County Health Department said they consistently monitor several waterways, including Blackridge Reservoir.

“All individuals should stay away from the water,” said Jorge Mendez with the health department.

“I have a 2-year-old, so I can try [to keep him out of the water] but he keeps going back in,” Fuchs smiled as she shrugged.

Wednesday, the SLCHD received lab results which detected a harmful algal bloom. The health department said these blooms occur naturally when cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, multiply – letting off a chemical called ‘Anatoxin-A.’

“Contact with this water and the toxin levels may affect individuals who play and swim and do other activities in the water,” Mendez said.

As soon as parents received the warning, they vacated the water – some left, others moved their activities to the shore.

“We’ll just play in the sand I guess, there’s a beach here,” Fuchs said as her kids and their friends made sandcastles along the water’s edge.

SLCHD warns, any contact, even just using trace amounts to build a sandcastle, could be reason for concern.

“It is a skin irritation and if it is ingested it can definitely have effects to the gastrointestinal track,” Mendez said. “Whenever there is contact and ingestion, or contact with mucous membranes, it definitely has [gastrointestinal] track symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea, rash.”

According to SLCHD, the warning will stay in place until toxin levels change and drop below the warning advisory level -- no one should swim in the area or ingest the water and it is important to keep pets away.

If you believe you have been exposed to the toxins, call Utah Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. Suspected blooms on waterways can be reported to the 24-hours DEQ Spill Line at 801-536-4123. For up-to-date information from the DEQ, click HERE.

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