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Algal Bloom Warning Expands, Includes Jordan River

Ben Holcomb, Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Utah Lake Algal Bloom

With the closure of Utah Lake just last week due to a toxic algal bloom, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality is expanding warnings now to include the Jordan River and lower Cottonwood Creek.

Last week’s testing of Utah Lake showed three times the World Health Organization’s recommended safe levels of algae. Multiple agencies are involved in testing those levels known to cause toxic cyanobacteria. Results of that testing are expected Tuesday or Wednesday. The DEQ’s Donna Kemp Spangler says her agency issues the warning with an abundance of caution.

“The algae seems to be moving and entering into places like Jordan River and some of the canals," says Spangler, "and that’s where we’re concerned and trying to pinpoint where it’s at and doing multiple sampling on various locations so we can get a better idea and handle over this.”

Spangler says with no expected change in temperatures or water flow, conditions are ripe for further expansion of the problem. The warnings do not include drinking water but she says residents who get secondary water from the Jordan River should avoid contact with the water. The statement includes an advisory to farmers and ranchers from the Department of Agriculture and Food to use other water sources if possible until test results determine the level of toxins. Late Monday afternoon, the DEQ announced that several cities in the Salt Lake Valley had shut down their secondary water systems due to the threat and are warning residents not to cross-connect their secondary irrigation lines with their household culinary water systems.  Spangler says Deq.Utah.Gov is posting updates as conditions change.

NOTE: This article is an edited version of the original to correct lower Cottonwood Creek from Little Cottonwood Creek.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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