Harmful algal blooms detected at Utah Lake’s Lincoln Beach and Provo Bay

Jul 17, 2023, 6:36 PM | Updated: 6:48 pm

PROVO, Utah – On Monday, the Utah County Health Department issued warnings for two areas in the southern end of Utah Lake for harmful algal blooms.

“We’ve been sampling all around the lake for the last two months, and what we’re seeing right now is elevated levels of harmful algal species and also some toxin production in the very southern part of the lake,” explained Hannah Bonner, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Water Quality.

The warning advisories from the health department contain the following restrictions for those visiting Provo Bay and Lincoln Beach:

“Pets are really vulnerable to these this harmful algal blooms,” Bonner said. “They’re much more likely to drink water, ingest it. It takes a smaller amount of toxins to make them sick.”

Only Provo Bay and Lincoln Beach are operating under restrictions. All other areas of Utah Lake are open for swimming and recreation.

A sign warning visitors of Utah Lake about the harmful algae. (KSL TV)

Bonner said water monitoring crews at Provo’s Utah Lake State Park did not see any visible signs of a harmful algal bloom. However, boaters are being told to avoid areas of algae in open water near the state park.

In recent years, algal blooms started to develop on Utah Lake around mid-June, she said. This year, the runoff kept the water higher and cooler, which delayed the harmful algae by a few weeks.

Monitoring crews are closely watching the lake because the hot weather, combined with all the sediment from this year’s record runoff, could create a perfect storm for big blooms later this summer.

“Ultimately, once conditions are ripe for a bloom, it doesn’t really matter what happened the month before,” Bonner said.

Utah Lake is susceptible to algal blooms because it’s shallow, warms up quickly, and gets extra nutrient pollution from nearby urban areas.

Utahns can help prevent algal blooms by not over-fertilizing their yards and keeping yard and pet waste out of gutters and storm drains.

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Harmful algal blooms detected at Utah Lake’s Lincoln Beach and Provo Bay