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Few Utahns braving the water after Utah Lake reopens to boaters

Posted at 9:17 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 23:17:47-04

UTAH LAKE -- You can go out on your boat, just don't swim in the water. That's what the Department of Environmental Quality is telling people about Utah Lake.

After being closed for two weeks due to toxic algae, the lake has reopened. Some people say they can't wait to get back out on the water, but others say the fact that there is still toxic algae out there keeps them away.

Brian Barker of Provo was among the few to return to Utah Lake with a splash Friday on his wave runner.

"I just love the water, and it's always fun to get out and go, just have some fun," Barker said.

Barker believes the DEQ would not have reopened the lake if people were in any real danger upon getting wet.

"If it's safe enough to go on the water, then it's probably safe enough to get in," Barker said.

Some say with these temperatures, it's crazy not to go for a swim.

"I would go hop in if I had a swim suit," said Sam McLain of Provo. "I don't really see any algae, it seems good to me."

But the DEQ says what you can't see will still hurt you. The algal bloom is less prevalent, but it's still there.

"Our current recommendation is to avoid primary contact with the water," said Ben Holcomb of the DEQ. "Avoid swimming, jet skiing, water skiing."

There are some who believe no one should be out there, not even in a boat.

"Not yet, I think it's a bad idea, I think you are going to have a lot of sick people," said Brian Lickey of Orem.

Lickey thinks the state opened the lake too soon.

"Considering at the very beginning of this they needed a weather event to clear it out, we haven't had a weather event," Lickey said.

Businesses, like Golden Wave Rentals, say if the lake is open so are they.

"I would just warn them, you go at your own risk," said employee Norman Cowes.

The company says they aren't taking the blame if someone gets sick.

"If they got sick it's technically the state's fault, they shouldn't let people in," Cowes said.

Utah Poison Control said this no swimming warning should be taken very seriously. In the last two weeks they have gotten calls from more than 100 people who said they got sick after swimming in the waters impacted by the algal bloom.