Large algal bloom warning remains in place at Utah Lake ahead of Labor Day weekend

Aug 31, 2023, 6:36 AM

Cody Ellsworth, water quality technician for the Utah Division of Water Quality, collects a sample ...

Cody Ellsworth, water quality technician for the Utah Division of Water Quality, collects a sample from Utah Lake on July 13. A lakewide algal bloom warning advisory is still in place heading into the Labor Day weekend. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

PROVO — Utah County health officials are reminding people who plan to visit Utah Lake this Labor Day weekend that a lake-wide algal bloom warning advisory is in place, as its situation has worsened since the first advisories were issued earlier this summer.

The reminder, sent Wednesday, calls on recreationists to “protect themselves and pets” by monitoring updates maintained by the Utah Division of Water Quality. Utah County Health Department officials first issued a lake-wide warning advisory on Aug. 15 after issuing localized warnings for American Fork Marina, Lincoln Beach, Lindon Marina and Provo Bay in July.

The warning advises people to avoid swimming or water skiing anywhere on Utah Lake, although boating and fishing are fine. Health officials say boaters should try to avoid blooms while on the water, while anglers should clean fish well and discard guts from any fish they catch at the lake and keep.

Lake visitors should also keep their children and pets away from the water if they’re near the lake. Algal blooms tend to look like thick blue-green patches on the lake surface.

Ashley Sumner, a spokeswoman with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees the Utah water quality division, told KSL.com that the county’s reminder is an “extra precaution” that local officials wanted to make, and nothing has changed over the past few weeks.

“I think (the lake) has been the same over the last couple of weeks,” she said, adding that the department is waiting on the results of new water samples collected a few days ago. “Conditions can change really quickly on the lake, depending on current, depending on weather, but we just know this time of year is really a time to be cautious at Utah Lake for harmful algal blooms.”

Algal blooms form when there are warm and sunny days, warm water temperatures and nutrient pollution mix together, causing naturally occurring cyanobacteria to multiply “very quickly” in the water,” according to state environmental officials. Blooms produce toxins that can cause skin irritation, illness and even damage the human kidney, liver or neurologic system.

Pets, wildlife and livestock can also experience serious illness or die from consuming the toxins. One dog died and three others became sick from toxic algae mats that formed on the Virgin River in southern Utah earlier this month.

Utah Lake has been hampered by large algal blooms in recent years, and experts warned in June that this year could be bad as Utah’s record-breaking snowpack melted into the creeks, streams and rivers that help fill the lake.

Hannah Bonner, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Water Quality, said at the time that flooding and runoff meant there would likely be more nutrient pollution, like fertilizer, ending up in the lake, even if the snowpack runoff brought down water temperatures at the start of the season.

“We also have had a lot of flooding, a lot of runoff, some big rain events, eroding rivers and streams, which is actually going to introduce more nutrient pollution into our waterbodies, so more food for algal growth,” she said.

The good news is that cooler days are on the horizon as autumn approaches. This is when Utah Lake’s algal bloom situation typically begins to improve.

“When temperatures get cooler, when we get more precipitation sort of in the later fall time, is when we generally see things start to calm down,” Sumner says. “If there’s a lot of weather moving in, there are lower temperatures and things tend to improve.”

In the meantime, people should avoid entering the water and keep pets away too, especially this holiday weekend.

The department also posts updates on social media every Friday regarding which bodies of water have harmful algal bloom advisories in place, which can be used to track which areas to be aware of while recreating.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


(Screenshot KSL-TV)...

Amie Schaeffer

7-year-old girl seriously injured when hit by truck now breathing on her own

The young girl was flown by a medical helicopter on Sunday night after she was hit by the truck on Sept. 26.

6 hours ago

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Follow @amandadickson...

Amanda Dickson

How parents in prison keep parenting, and how Utah helps

Nearly three-quarters of the women in Utah's prisons are parents to children under the age of 18. The number is smaller for fathers in prison, the number of parents in prison still affects one out of every 14 children.

7 hours ago

The OLRGC released an analysis of the expected topics to be discussed during a special session of t...

Mark Jones

Utah’s citizen legislature is an advantage, not a burden

A citizen legislature, claims Sen. Lincoln Fillmore of South Jordan, assures more contact with constituents.

16 hours ago

El Nino could help Utah, but it could hurt Utah, KSL Meteorologist says....

Adam Small and Derrick Jones

Will El Niño bring snow to Utah this winter? KSL Meteorologist says, maybe

With a lot of excitement about El Nino, and coming off last year's historic winter, many Utahns are hopeful.

17 hours ago

A man is being held without bail after police say he forcibly kissed a Brigham Young University stu...

Mark Jones

Wasatch County authorities bust chop shop operation

The Wasatch County Sheriff's Office says three people were arrested in connection to a chop shop operation near Wallsburg,

17 hours ago

Image of jetskiers on Pineview Reservoir in Weber County in August, 2023. As the end of Utah's wate...

Don Brinkerhoff

As water year ends, reservoirs around Utah are in a “good place”

As the water year comes to an end in Utah, reservoirs are at 77% capacity, which is an increase of 27% from normal.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Large algal bloom warning remains in place at Utah Lake ahead of Labor Day weekend