Professor receives $3 million grant to study algae blooms

Sep 7, 2022, 5:09 PM
Deer creek algae...
Deer Creek Algae: Credit Wasatch County Health Dept

SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah civil and environmental engineering professor Ramesh Goel has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to figure out why some algae blooms are dangerous and others are not. 

Accordingly, the research will take place at Utah Lake, Zion National Park and areas near the California-Nevada state line.  Goel said in a press release, that his team will try to better understand how the algae grow and understand the potential effect of temperature and sunlight. 

Goel said the research will help officials make timely decisions on algae blooms. 

“These models based on experimental data will enable us to forecast the extent and duration of the blooms,” Goel said. “And water professionals and health managers can make better, earlier decisions.” 

What are harmful algae blooms?

According to the Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ), naturally occurring cyanobacteria in the water multiply and form colonies or blooms. Algae blooms become harmful to humans and animals when they produce cyanotoxins. 

Some causes listed by the DWQ about why the algae bloom include,

  • High nutrient levels, particularly phosphorus
  • Abundant sunlight
  • Warm water temperatures and
  • Stagnant or slow-moving waters

DWQ said that it is difficult to tell when a bloom is dangerous. The division advises avoiding contact with any floating mats, scums, or enclosed water because toxins produced by harmful blooms can attack the liver, nervous system or irritate the skin. 

Preventing harmful blooms

According to the DWQ, wastewater and runoff from agriculture and stormwater can carry nitrogen and phosphorous that promote the growth of cyanobacteria. The division advises the following to help improve water quality. 

  • Reduce the amount of fertilizer you use on your lawn.
  • Use only phosphorus-free fertilizer when possible.
  • Fix leaking septic systems.
  • Use only phosphorus-free detergents in dishwashers.
  • Keep yard debris such as leaves or grass clippings from washing into storm drains.
  • Pick up pet waste.

You can find an interactive map showing which Utah bodies of water have harmful blooms on the DWQ website.




Today’s Top Stories


Utah homes are recording high levels of radon gas. 
Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News...
Heather Kelly and Elizabeth Weiler

Utah homes have some of the highest levels of radon gas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that one in 15 homes in the U.S. have dangerous levels of radon gas. Utah is at much higher risk.
3 days ago
Another earthquake hit Utah, following two yesterday, around 2:58 p.m. It was located 2.8 miles nor...
Waverly Golden

Another earthquake hits Utah, near Magna

Another earthquake hit Utah, following two that shook the Beehive State on Monday.
9 days ago
Family of beavers released in Carters Creek...
Aubri Wuthrich

Beavers rescued and released in Uintas to rebuild Carter Creek

A family of beavers was relocated with the hope that they will repopulate a formerly thriving beaver habitat.
13 days ago
utah heat high elevation people on sidewalk in salt lake city...
Curt Gresseth

Preparing for and staying safe in extreme heat

Extreme heat is the story of Utah during summer 2022. Salt Lake City saw 33 days of 100 degrees or greater -- and counting. An expert shares tips and advice on preparing for -- and staying safe -- in extreme heat.
23 days ago
Image of sun spider, which some in southern Utah may be confusing for scorpions. (Canva)...
Alejandro Lucero

They’re sun spiders not scorpions says local expert

Sun spiders have ten legs, whereas the scorpion has eight. Still, a Utah expert isn't surprised about the confusion.
23 days ago
The Great Salt Lake has reached a historic low level of water....
Alejandro Lucero

Utah youth to hold funeral style demonstration for Great Salt Lake

A funeral style demonstration will be held by Utah Youth Environmental Solutions Network on Sept. 3. It will begin at 11 a.m.
27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
Professor receives $3 million grant to study algae blooms