Utah’s drought and heat could make harmful algae blooms ‘really bad’ this summer

Jul 9, 2021, 4:57 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY –Harmful algae blooms in Utah’s lakes and reservoirs could be really bad this summer, according to Utah’s Department Environmental Quality.

The agency said the drought and relentless heat is making for blooms earlier in the season.

“We have an increase for the potential for harmful algae blooms to be really bad this summer,” Dr. Kate Fickas told KSL Newsradio.

Fickas said it’s because the drought has made waters more stagnant and the hot temperatures are making waters warmer.

“Water bodies that typically don’t have bloom problem until maybe September or October are already starting to bloom, they were starting to bloom early in the summer and they’re ramping up now.” Fickas said.

“Harmful algal blooms (HABs) develop when naturally occurring cyanobacteria in the water multiply very quickly to form green or blue-green water, scum, or mats. These blooms can produce potent cyanotoxins that pose serious health risks to humans, pets, and livestock.”

The Department of Environmental Quality has already issued advisories for areas of Utah Lake, Mantua Reservoir, Matt Warner Reservoir, Scofield Reservoir, and in Zion National Park from The Narrows down to Confluence Park in LaVerkin.

“Too many [reservoirs] to list right now have low level harmful algae blooms that really aren’t above our thresholds right now but we are concerned about,” said Fickus.

How to stay safe

According to Fickus, people should keep an eye out for water that looks like it has “green spilled paint, pea soup, sometimes it looks like somebody spilled their lawn mower clippings directly into the water.”

She advises staying out of that water and notifying them. She especially advised keeping pets and children from swallowing any of this water.

  1. Don’t swallow water when swimming.
  2. Wash hands with clean water before eating or preparing food.
  3. Clean fish well and discard the guts.
  4. Keep animals away.
  5. Recognize the signs of a bloom, and when in doubt, stay out.


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 Utah’s drought and heat could make harmful algae blooms ‘really bad’ this summer