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Algal bloom spreads to more of Utah Lake

SPANISH FORK — Health officials are warning people to stay out of a larger area of Utah Lake after a harmful algal bloom spread beyond Provo Bay to infest Lincoln Marina, Sandy Beach and the Utah Lake State Park waters.

Sampling from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Water Quality found toxins that exceeded the recommended levels for microcystin.

Microcystin is a potent liver toxin and possible human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It causes the death of livestock and other domesticated animals and is linked to wildlife and fish kills.

“It is important for the public to be aware of the additional warnings on Utah Lake,” says Eric Edwards, deputy director of Utah County Health Department. “Utah Lake is a huge lake with some areas not currently affected. We would remind those recreating to be mindful of certain areas of the lake that have samples exceeding the recreational levels for toxins.”

People may still boat in those areas, but they should avoid lake scum or any contact with the water.

Crews from the state's water quality division took samples on June 20 at eight sites at the lake. Three of those sites exceeded the health-based threshold for recreational waters.

Signs are posted at Lincoln Marina, Sandy Beach, Provo Bay and Utah Lake State Park to warn people about recreating in those areas.

For concerns about possible human exposure, call the Utah Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222, or your physician.

The proliferation of algal blooms occurs during the heat and stagnant weather patterns, fueled by excess nutrients such as phosphorus. Researchers are engaged in multiple studies at Utah Lake related to the algal blooms. The problem at Utah Lake has become persistently worse over the years.

Last week, agencies report an algal bloom outbreak at Rockport Reservoir in Summit County.

More information is available at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's website.