Toxic algae returns

By Amy Brunvand

At the end of June, satellite images showed a toxic algal bloom spreading in Utah Lake. By July a health advisory warned the public to avoid dark green areas with scum, foam or other visible signs of algae, and by July 14 toxin levels had risen so that people were advised not to swim or water-ski anywhere in Utah Lake.

As of July 12, the Utah Poison Control Center reported 68 cases of illness related to the algal bloom, 55 of them human, with symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, dizziness and skin irritation.

Algal blooms are due to high levels of nutrients in the water, such as urban effluent and agricultural runoff, combined with warm temperatures (a consequence of climate change). In the 2017 General Session, the Utah Legislature passed HCR26 “Urging Restoration of Utah Lake,” but it was only a message bill with no funding or action plan attached.

DEQ Harmful Algal Blooms: deq.utah.gov/Divisions/ dwq/ health-advisory/harmful-algal-blooms

This article was originally published on August 1, 2017.