Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring

    Visit lakes or reservoirs often?

    We need your help monitoring Utah for the presence of harmful algae! 

    Harmful algae (actually cyanobacteria) is naturally occurring in reservoirs, lakes, and ponds, but with increasing nutrients, lower water levels, and warmer temperatures, blooms are occurring more frequently around Utah and the world. These blooms are made up of billions of cyanobacteria, primitive nitrogen-fixing photosynthetic bacteria that thrive in warm, phosphorus rich waters.

    Mantua algae bloomWhile harmless in small concentrations, blooms sometimes produce toxins that can be deadly for humans, pets, and livestock. 

    Participate in statewide Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) monitoring with Utah Water Watch (UWW) and the Utah Department of Water Quality (UDWQ) to help identify the occurrence of these blooms.

    To read research about how environmental conditions lead to HABs, check out Utah State Today's article.


    How to Monitor for HABs

    • See these simple instructions to learn how to identify HABs in the field. 
    • Make frequent observations of lakes and reservoirs across Utah.
    • When you visit a lake or reservoir, record the presence of absence of a possible HAB using the BloomWatch app. 
    • If you suspect a bloom, contact the UDWQ HAB hotline immediately at (801) 536-3123. 
    • Continue to include algal information when you submit your data to UWW's CitSci database


    BloomWatch App

    BloomWatch appUse this app to report the presence or absence of a bloom in the field. The app is available on Android or iOS or by clicking the photo to the left. If you report the presence of a bloom, a notification will be sent to UDWQ. This allows a crew to respond and get warnings out to Utah citizens immediately.





    NOAA's Phytoplankton Monitoring Network 
    NOAA Database

    You can also be trained through NOAA's Phytoplankton Monitoring Network to collect samples and identify algae under a microscope. 

    Once you complete training: 

    • Use the NOAA database to enter data.  Note: Report findings here even if you do not find any cyanobacteria. 
    • Collect samples, use UWW Bottle Labels to make sample collection notes of date/time, location, water temp, etc. 
    • Look at samples under a microscope and use ID guides 
    • Any positive hits of cyanobacteria, send photos to pmn@noaa.gov for verification. 

    If you are interested in participating, contact UWW at waterquality@usu.edu or 435-797-2580.


    NOAA Database 


    Monitoring Guides 


    For more information and updates about Utah blooms, visit the Divison of Water Quality

    Safety Precautions

    Algal blooms may contain toxin-producing cyanobacteria. The following tips will help keep you safe. Be sure to bring gloves, safety/sun glasses, clean water, and soap if none is available on site. Samplers should:

    • Wear elbow/shoulder length gloves 
    • Wear eye protection (such as sunglasses or goggles), and waders/boots during sampling 
    • Do not ingest water or allow the water to come into contact with exposed skin
    • Avoid inhaling spray caused by boats, wind or other water surface disturbances.  If these conditions are present, wear a mask to avoid inhalation of water spray.
    • Hands should be washed thoroughly after sampling, and before eating or drinking, with clean water (not lake water)
    • Waders/boots should be rinsed of algal material using clean water (not lake water) before storage.



    Additional Resources 


    Additional Guide: Microcystis

    Scope and Field Photos: 

    Additional Monitoring Information: 

    Other Useful Resources: