SALT LAKE CITY — Samples taken from Utah Lake’s Provo Bay show elevated levels of toxins from blue-green algae, prompting Utah County Health officials to issue an advisory Tuesday for people to stay out of the water.
Water quality crews responded last Wednesday to a report of an algal bloom in Provo Bay and collected five samples at various locations at and around the Swede Sportsman Access.
The results showed the presence of two cyanotoxins, anatoxin-a and microcystin, that exceed the health-based threshold for recreational waters.
None of the other areas of the lake are impacted, the health department said.
“Utah Lake is a huge lake with many areas not currently affected,” said Eric Edwards, deputy director of the Utah County Health Department. “We want those recreating to safely enjoy the lake and also make sure they are properly cautioned about the presence about potential harmful algal blooms in certain areas of the lake that can pose health risks.”
Microcystin, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a potent liver toxin and a possible human carcinogen. Anatoxin-a is a potentially lethal toxin that can cause respiratory failure.
The onset of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is fueled by an excess of nutrients in the water, particularly phosphorus. Excess phosphorus is linked to human activities such as wastewater treatment discharges, agricultural operations and storm runoff.
Last year, the state had 12 instances of cyanobacteria outbreaks — including in Utah Lake and Scofield Reservoir.
In 2016, an algal bloom covered nearly the entire surface of Utah Lake and hundreds of people reported symptoms of exposure to the Utah Poison Control Center.
The center will continue to field calls this year as the algal bloom season progresses. Its number is 800-222-1222.
Additional information is available at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s website.
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News