A toxic algal bloom was discovered in the North Fork of the Virgin River which runs through Zion National Park after a pet dog died from playing in the water.
Toxic algae (aka cyanobacteria) contain a potent neurotoxin that can cause nausea, liver damage tingling, numbness and seizures. The algae occur naturally, but usually in concentrations too small to be dangerous. Hot temperatures and inputs of nutrients, such as from sewage or agricultural runoff, can cause the algae to increase to dangerous levels.
The Virgin River supplies drinking water for the Washington County Water Conservancy District. In Northern Utah, toxic algal blooms have become a perennial problem in Utah Lake. The Utah Division of Water Quality website has photos to help the public recognize toxic algae and a hotline to report a toxic algal bloom. DWQ advises, “When in doubt, stay out.”
- DEQ Harmful Algal Bloom: deq.utah.gov/water-quality/harmful-algal-blooms-home
This is an excerpt from our August Environews column. View the full article here.