Algae levels prompt stricter advisories in some parts of Utah Lake

Algae levels prompt stricter advisories in some parts of Utah Lake

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News, File)

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PROVO — Visitors to some areas of Utah Lake are now seeing stricter advisories because of new concerns about a harmful algal bloom in those areas, health officials said Monday.

Postings at Saratoga Springs Marina and Sandy Beach have been upgraded from a "caution" to a "warning," the Utah County Health Department reported. Utah Lake visitors in those areas are asked not to swim there. Boating is allowed, but areas with high concentrations of algal scum should be avoided, according to department spokeswoman Aislynn Tolman-Hill.

Lincoln Beach remains closed and all other areas of the lake remain under a "caution" advisory, meaning swimming is allowed, but visitors should keep out a wary eye for areas with high concentrations of scum. Pets and livestock should also be kept from drinking or getting in the water at any advisory level, Tolman-Hill said.

There are advisories in place at much smaller lakes in Payson as well. Box Lake has been upgraded from "caution" to "warning" status. "Warning" notifications remain posted at Big East Lake, and McKellen Lake remains under "caution."

"Changes in advisories are based on recent testing results and monitoring," Tolman-Hill said in a statement.

The tests monitoring algal blooms are ongoing, she added.

Ralph Clegg, executive director of the Utah County Health Department, said heightened concern over algal bloom was to be expected.

“We are just now approaching the typical algal bloom season,” Clegg said in a statement. “It really is not surprising that we are seeing the algal bloom issues resurface as we get ready to head into fall.”

Utah Lake was closed July 15 after tests there showed algal levels three times higher than what is considered safe. By Aug. 2, most areas of the lake were reopened to swimming and water sports after those levels subsided, but concerns of another algal bloom remained.

Algae poisoning symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headaches, fever and skin irritation.

Anyone who believes they may have seen harmful concentrations of algae can call the state spill tip line at 801-536-4123. Those who have been exposed to such algae are asked to call the Utah Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. Affected animals should be seen by a veterinarian.

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