ENVIRONMENT

Utah runoff affecting algae blooms

May 22, 2023, 1:00 PM

algae blooms in a utah reservoir pictured...

The Blackridge Reservoir, which closed due to an algae bloom that posed a potential health risk, is pictured in Herriman on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. (Stacie Scott/Deseret News)

(Stacie Scott/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s good and bad news for this year’s algae blooms. Our unprecedented water year could keep the harmful blooms at bay while also increasing their number.

According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, DEQ, algae blooms can put toxins in our water that harm both humans and animals.

The DEQ said all the runoff this year means our reservoirs will be cold and deep, keeping the harmful blooms at bay for longer.

“It might be that they’re better for the first part of the summer and then they get worse later in the summer,” said Hannah Bonner, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Water Quality.

But all the flooding and flows will also bring in more nutrients that feed the algae.

“The flip side is that we also have seen a lot of flooding and scouring, which introduces additional nutrient pollution into our water bodies, which feeds the algae.” 

That could mean once the water gets warm, the blooms could worsen.

It’s too soon to tell what’s going to happen, but Bonner said we can do our part to reduce pollutants in Utah’s waterways.

“Being careful about the amount of fertilizer we put on our lawns, picking up animal poop, cleaning out our gutters. Those are all things that we can personally do that also helps limit algae growth.”

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Utah runoff affecting algae blooms