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Utah expected to see more toxic algal blooms in 2021 due to drought, high heat

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 19:19:57-04

UTAH COUNTY — There is an increasing number of harmful algal blooms (HABs) being found in bodies of water across Utah.

Dr. Kate Fickas, the Harmful Algal Bloom program coordinator for the Utah Division of Water Quality, says it is not uncommon to see HABs in Utah, but it usually happens later in the year.

“What are seeing is with the increased heat and the drought and low water levels, these reservoirs, lakes are getting started earlier,” she said.

The HABS could also be more harmful this year, Dr. Fickas said.

“This year in 2021, we are expecting potentially higher magnitude blooms, meaning they are more toxic,” she said.

READ: Harmful algal bloom warning issued for part of Utah Lake

Utah’s Division of Water Quality tests bodies of water in Utah monthly and sometimes weekly for HABs, Dr. Fickas said.

“It can really be often hard to tell whether something green or plant material in the water is actually toxic by looking at it, so we do extensive testing,” she said.

People should avoid getting into the water if it looks like pea soup, is green or has any other indications there could potentially be a HAB, Dr. Fickas said.

“We really encourage you to stay out of the water and that’s especially true for children and pets who can get really sick, really quickly,” she said.

HABs can be harmful to humans and have even killed pets at least twice last summer in Utah — one at Mantua Reservoir and another in Zion National Park.

For a list of HABs in Utah, click here.

To report a potential HAB, call DEQ Environment Incidents Line: (801) 536-4123.

If you believe you, your pet or someone you know may have been exposed to a harmful algal bloom, call Utah Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

Click here for more information on how to protect your pet, and for tips on how to keep yourself safe, click here.