The Utah County Health Department issued a “danger advisory” on Thursday for the Utah Lake State Park Marina after finding toxic algae concentrations seven times higher than the threshold for safe recreation.

The Utah Division of Water Quality’s harmful algal bloom monitoring team visited Utah Lake on Sept. 10 and “observed a harmful algal bloom at Lincoln Marina, the State Park Marina, Provo Bay, American Fork Marina and the open water,” according to a Thursday update about HAB monitoring.

Lab results showed “the presence of high toxigenic cell count densities in some areas,” including at the state park marina boat ramp, where toxigenic cell concentrations reached 72.6 million cells per milliliter, well above the DWR and Utah Department of Health Recreational Health Threshold for a danger advisory: 10 million cells per mL.

A surface sample taken near the jetty at the state park showed toxigenic cell concentrations at 23.8 million cells per mL, while a composite sample showed concentrations at 2.6 million per mL.

Though the state park marina, which is located on the east side of the lake in Provo, remains open “for boat traffic to access Utah Lake,” the Utah County Health Department said that “water recreation within the marina should be avoided.”

Last month, the county health department issued a danger advisory for the American Fork Marina after surface samples taken on Aug. 7 revealed toxigenic cell concentrations of over 138 million cells per mL. Health officials also issued a danger advisory for the Lincoln Beach Marina after Aug. 24 samples showed concentrations of 47.6 million cells per mL.

Both of those danger advisories were updated on Sept. 3 and remain in place as of Friday, according to the county health department.

On Aug. 19, health officials issued a “warning advisory” for the open water of Utah Lake after samples taken of a water column bloom in open water near Provo Harbor showed concentrations of over 767,000 cells per mL.

HAB monitoring at Utah Lake and other water bodies temporarily paused in June after the Utah State Legislature cut $200,000 in state funding for algae monitoring as part of widespread budget cuts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reduced testing at priority lakes, rivers and reservoirs, including Utah Lake, resumed in July after the state received a $104,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’ve reduced from about 60 water bodies around the state that we have been monitoring for the last few years down to just 18 because of funding cuts,” DWQ Director Erica Gaddis told lawmakers in August.

Beginning in July, the water at the Lindon Marina underwent a series of chemical treatments funded by the legislature in 2019.

Richard Allred, CEO of Alpine Technical Services, the company in charge of testing, told the Daily Herald on Aug. 28 that the copper sulphate anhydrite treatments had been “going quite well” and were successful in reducing algae concentrations.

A surface sample taken on Aug. 31 at Lincoln Beach, where an advisory warning is currently issued, showed algae concentrations of 209,412 cells per mL.

For more information about HABs at Utah Lake, visit http://deq.utah.gov/water-quality/harmful-algal-blooms-home.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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