Harmful Algal Blooms
Harmful Algal Bloom Tier 2 Program Introduction
Welcome to Utah Water Watch harmful algal bloom program. The program is a merger of two programs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Freshwater Phytoplankton Monitoring Network and the state Division of Water Quality's (DWQ) Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) program.
What are Harmful Algal Blooms?
Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are large growths of certain species of cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria) that are known to release toxins into the water. They are found both in fresh and salt water (related to red tides) and are not technically algae. Cyanobacteria are a natural part of the phytoplankton diversity of lakes and ponds, however when conditions are favorable, overgrowth of one species can occur. Interestingly, not all blooms release toxins and it is not known what triggers cyanobacteria to release toxins. For more information on HABs, click here.
Roles of Volunteers:
Volunteers monitor both for the State of Utah and NOAA. Volunteers collect water samples from reservoirs and analyze them under a scope in a nearby lab for NOAA, which is studying the population dynamics of HAB's. Volunteers also survey their lakes for signs of algae blooms, and are equipped to document blooms and report them to the state of Utah Division of Water Quality. The program operates from ice out (April) to ice in (November). Volunteers monitor water bodies twice monthly but are invited to collaborate of monitoring with other volunteers. Monitoring and analyzing protocols are located on the Supplies and Protocol page.
Volunteers will be provided with a Harmful Algal Bloom notebook, which contains ID guides and official protocols for both NOAA and Utah. They will also be provided with supplies, a list of which is located on the Supplies and Protocol page.
Harmful Algal Bloom Notebook:
- Utah Water Watch Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring Program
- NOAA's Freshwater Phytoplankton ID Sheet
- USGS Field and Laboratory Guide
- DWQ Recommended Standards and Procedures