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‘Danger Advisory’ issued for harbor area on Utah Lake due to harmful blooms

Posted at 9:18 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 23:18:29-04

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — The Utah County Health Department and Utah Department of Environmental Quality announced an upgrade to an existing advisory at American Fork Marina on Utah Lake.

On Wednesday, the departments used a ‘danger advisory’ for the harbor area at the marina.

“Based on the conditions that we found there in those samples they are going to expand some of the warning advisories on the lake and there is a danger advisory that’s going to go up at American Fork Marina,” said Jared Mendenhall with Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “We’re looking for cell count so when we see how dense the algal bloom is and reach a certain cell count then that prompts more of the danger warning versus the warning advisory.”

The water in the area has a noticeable green film. Utah County Health Department recommends the water only to be used for traveling through to the main lake but not used by people wanting to swim.

“The danger advisory recommends you don’t go in the water,” said Mendenhall.

In an update posted to Utah DEQ’s Harmful Algal Bloom interactive website, regarding the marina it reads: “American Fork marina is currently under a Warning advisory. However, recent toxigenic cell counts exceed the recommended Danger advisory by a factor of 14. The Utah County Health Department is issuing a Danger Advisory for American Fork marina.“

At first, it appeared the Utah County Health Department was recommending the full closure of the marina. However, a clarification was issued to allow boaters to use the ramp but still recommend people stay above water in the area until further notice.

“Personal watercraft will be allowed to access the water from the launch ramp and pass through the waters but personal recreation within the harbor is closed,” said Utah County Health Department Environmental Health Director Tyler Plewer in a statement to Fox13. “The public should be very cautious as they load and unload the watercraft from this area.”

This is the first danger advisory to be issued this year by Utah DEQ. A handful of locations around the state are currently under a warning advisory for harmful algal blooms, with more than half those places at testing sites around Utah Lake.

“There’s a lot of factors that can lead to the conditions that form these harmful algal blooms we do know that a lot of sunlight and nutritional-rich water that is what is going to produce bigger, stronger blooms,” said Mendenhall. “They tend to shift around a little bit and show up in one spot and what we have seen at these levels in American Fork Marina at least until we get back and take some other samples maybe just stay in the boat in those areas.”

Signs are expected to be posted at American Fork Marina by the Utah County Health Department on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, the department told Fox13 that additional warning signs were placed at the Provo Boat Harbor, a new warning location.

Regardless of the toxin levels, health officials say it is still ok to use other areas of the lake but it’s recommended to check recent warnings and advisories before using any body of water in the state right now.

Get the latest information on water conditions and potential harmful algal blooms here.