HEALTH

Algal blooms could return to Utah recreational water

Aug 5, 2021, 6:00 AM | Updated: Aug 9, 2021, 3:57 pm
Algal Bloom...
[Photo Credit: Canva Images]

SALT LAKE CITY — Harmful algal blooms might be making a return to Utah lakes and reservoirs, according to water experts. The return of the bacteria has to do with recent monsoonal rains and flash flooding. 

Cyanobacteria, what algal blooms are made of, like food and warm weather. The big rainstorms have supplied food by washing nutrients into the water. Now warmer temperatures appear to be the norm for the foreseeable future. 

The rain is a blessing and a curse, says Dr. Kate Fickas, Utah Division of Water Quality Recreational Water Quality Health Program Coordinator. 

“We want more water in our reservoirs. It helps with mixing and it helps dilute both water-borne pathogens and cyanobacteria,” said Fickas. “Then, as the weather starts to pick up again, it gets really warm. Water levels are going down and now we have added food for these harmful algal blooms in the reservoirs.” 

If you are unfamiliar with what these blooms look like, Fickas says they look unnatural. 

“It can look like pea soup, really green and gunky. It can look like someone spilled their green paint in the water, it has an oily film. It can look like lime green water, really neon-colored. Sometimes they look like little green pom-poms in the water. Another common one, it can look like someone took their lawnmower clippings and dumped them straight into the water,” Fickas explained. 

If you would like to see photos of the algal blooms or check where the blooms are known to exist, go to: https://deq.utah.gov/water-quality/harmful-algal-blooms-home

The Division of Water Quality is now monitoring several recreational bodies of water for the algal blooms on a weekly basis. The agency asks that you call them if you see a bloom at (801) 536-4123.

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