State considering long and short-term solutions for toxic algae at Utah Lake

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 21:42:02-04

UTAH COUNTY --- The Utah Lake Commission says while algal blooms are usually a short-term problem, they are looking at both long and short-term solutions after a toxic bloom closed Utah Lake.

"I’ve never seen it closed before," said Bill Loy, a retired commercial fisherman.

Loy is a link in five generations of fishermen who pull carp out of this lake. And, for the sake of his family and others, he' not happy it's closed.

"I’m mad,” he said. “I think it’s an imposition on the people that are making a living off of this lake.”

Many are expressing concerns and asking: What can be done to get this lake reopened? The state said they want to get rid of the current problem, and prevent similar incidents from happening again.

"Normally an algal bloom, we would just let nature take its course and disappear," said Eric Ellis, Director of the Utah Lake Commission.

But with toxic algae making its way into lakes and streams and potentially affecting agriculture and livestock, rapid responses are under consideration.

"Anything from organic like microbes that would be released into the lake that would consume the algae, to chemical type treatments like algaecides that can just kill the algae off,” Ellis said.

The state hasn’t announced any specific plans for the short-term yet, and, for now, people are wondering how the bloom came to be in the lake in the first place.

While fertilizers seeping into the lake are one problem, an imbalance in the ecosystem is another.

"Now we have 95 percent of the biomass of Utah Lake tied up in a fairly non-desirable species," said Aquatics Project Leader Chris Crockett of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The Loy family angles for carp, which Crockett said is a species detrimental to the lake.

"They're pulling up a lot of that vegetation, and so if we can get the carp out we can, we’ll have more nutrients going into the vegetation," Crockett said.

Removing carp from the water, cleaning up the shoreline, and creating deltas are just a few of the long-term solutions in the works. But, no matter how it gets cleaned up, Bill Loy just wants them do it fast.

"I think they better get it open in a hurry, or they’re going to have a lot of people down their throats," he said.

While it is unclear when the lake would reopen, the advisory against using water from the lake for irrigating crops and watering livestock has been lifted.