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Bothersome, but harmless: Some Utahns find tiny crustaceans clogging secondary water filters

Posted at 6:22 PM, Jun 23, 2023

ROY, Utah — For the past few days, Benjamin Pearson has been cleaning his home's secondary water filter more than he would like.

"In the past two days, this will be the fourth time cleaning it. Yesterday I did it and I turned the sprinklers on to do a cycle and it didn't even go five minutes before it was low water pressure again and they were just super clogged," Pearson said.

The culprit? Possibly clam shrimp.

"You can really tell when they're there clogging because it smells super fishy," Pearson said.

This isn't the Roy community's first run-in with the little crustaceans. Pearson's water filter was covered multiple times in 2018.

In 2018 and 2021, the Roy Water Conservancy District confirmed there were clam shrimp clogging some water filters. Although they have not yet confirmed that this year, Pearson and other Roy residents say what's on their filters looks and smells the same as years past.

"I made a post in the Roy Facebook page and some people said they see them every year, but I haven't seen them since 2018 in my area," Pearson said.

Chuck Hawkins, a professor of aquatic ecology and watershed sciences at Utah State University, says water going into secondary water systems often carries small aquatic organisms.

"That water comes directly from springs, streams, etc. That water is often used for irrigation, not drinking water purposes," Hawkins said. "That water will certainly have all sorts of organisms in it, so it's not surprising a clam shrimp would end up on additional filters."

Although they may be an inconvenience to homeowners, Hawkins says seeing these organisms is no cause for concern.

"We use invertebrates as indicators of water quality health and certainly the presence of these organisms isn't indicative of their being a problem, per se. It's good that we're seeing them," Hawkins said.

After using resources from the Roy Water Conservancy District and having enough of his own experience, Pearson knows the easiest steps to take to get rid of the critters.

"I turn the water off at the main water valve line, I'll take the filter off, then what I'll do is I'll wash it down with the water, then blow the line out to try and push the other clams out, and then I'll just put the filter back on and do it again if it clogs again," Pearson said.

The Roy Water Conservancy District suggested that if residents find clam shrimp in their water filter systems, they can go to for instructions and other resources.