Utah Lake’s Toxic Algae Spreads To Jordan River, Canals; Poses Health Risk To Humans, Animals

A toxic algae bloom spreading from Utah Lake to the Jordan River and lower Little Cottonwood River and adjacent canals has prompted a health warning for humans and animals. Photo: Utah Dept. Environmental Quality

PROVO, Utah, July 17, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality has issued a warning saying people and animals should avoid contact with water from the Jordan River, parts of lower Little Cottonwood Creek and adjacent canals.

The warning comes on the heels of a toxic algae bloom which has taken over Utah Lake and is now spreading to adjacent waterways.

According to a weekend press release, elevated levels of harmful algae have now been found in the Jordan River and lower Little Cottonwood Canyon Creek.

The news release said: “Aerial views of the bloom showed algae scums moving north from Utah Lake into the Jordan River.

“The Division of Water Quality will continue to sample Utah Lake and the Jordan River for both the algae and toxins.

“Concerns over the safety of irrigation water and recreational use of the Jordan River as well as lakes and ponds fed by the river have led the Salt Lake County Health Department to post caution signs on recreational access points on the river.”

The news release continues: “Over the past 24 hours, the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) has responded to over 300 requests for assistance regarding the algal bloom in Utah Lake. While the majority of cases involved people recreating at Utah Lake, six involved animals, and 18 were general questions from individuals who had not come in contact with the water.

“Exposures were reported in all age groups, with 12 percent of cases in children less than six years of age, 18 percent in children 6-12 years of age, and 25 percent in teenagers.

Approximately 20 percent of the cases reported some type of adverse health effect, with the most common complaints involving gastrointestinal distress followed by headache and skin rash.”

“Water samples taken at Utah Lake on July 13, 2016, show high cell counts of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, a type of cyanobacteria that can produce cyanotoxins. Results are expected early next week.”

Drinking water is not being impacted the algae bloom as it is drawn from closed water systems.

If ingested, the toxin can cause life threatening conditions. Even the slightest contact is not recommended.

“The Division of Water Quality will continue to sample Utah Lake and the Jordan River for both the algae and toxins.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) issued a strong advisory to farmers and ranchers yesterday, urging them to avoid using water from Utah Lake for crop irrigation and livestock watering until lab results are available early next week. UDAF suggested that farmers and ranchers use alternative water sources for crops, livestock, and other animals. The Salt Lake County Health Department reports that drinking water is not affected by the bloom.
For more information on the algae you can visit CDC.gov.
For updates on the closure you can check the Utah DEQ.

Utah Lake is a large freshwater lake that is popular for boating, water sports and fishing.


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