Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring
Harmful algal blooms frequently occur in reservoirs, lakes and ponds, especially those that are highly nutrient enriched. These blooms are made up of billions of cyanobacteria: primitive nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic bacteria that thrive in warm, phosphorus rich waters.
While harmless in small concentrations, blooms – large growths - can produce toxins that can be deadly for humans, pets and livestock.
Harmful algal blooms tend to occur in warm waters that are nutrient enriched. Often as reservoirs are drawn-down in the summer, blooms occur. Nutrients can enter a lake through runoff (agricultural, urban or suburban) or from wastewater treatment plants. Utah – unlike many states - does not currently set standards for nutrients in discharge from sewage treatment plants, exacerbating the problem.
Participate in statewide monitoring with UWW and NOAA to help identify the occurrence of these blooms. See resources below.
More information and updates about Utah blooms: Divison of Water Quality
- Basic Cyano ID Guide
- Utah Department of Health: Field photos
- Freshwater Phytoplankton ID Sheet - NOAA Target Algae
If you find a potential bloom:
- For immediate concerns, contact the DEQ Spill Line (801) 536-4123. Otherwise, use the bloomWatch and/or UWW Google Form to report findings. Both of these will notify either the DWQ or UWW for follow-up.
- Use the NOAA database if you are regularly monitoring. Note: Report findings here even if you do not find any cyanobacteria.
Use this app to report a visual bloom in the field. App available on Android or iOS. By tagging Utah, a notification is sent to the Division of Water Quality. You may add photos and location of the bloom.
Use this form to submit photos and information of field and/or microscope data to the Utah Water Watch. We forward this information to the Division of Water Quality and local health departments. You may be asked to collect an additional sample for toxin tests.
Use this link to report microscope data to the NOAA phytoplankton Monitoring Network. Any positive hits of cyanobacteria, send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org for verification.
Utah volunteers use a similar login - if you are interested in participating, contact UWW at email@example.com or 435-797-2580.