Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring
Visit lakes or reservoirs often?
Enjoy using a microscope or interested to give it a try?
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.
While 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 UWW and NOAA to help identify the occurrence of these blooms. See the monitoring guides and resources below to learn more.
For more information and updates about Utah blooms, visit the Divison of Water Quality.
Scope and Field Photos
- Volunteer Field Photos
- Utah DWQ HAB Photo Gallery (select "HABs Photo Gallery" from the menu on the left side of the page)
- Utah Department of Health: Field photos
- UWW Microscope photos - cyanobacteria
- UWW Microscope photos - not cyanobacteria
- NOAA PMN Image Gallery
If you find a potential bloom:
- For immediate concerns, contact the DEQ Spill Line (801) 536-4123. Otherwise, use the bloomWatch app and/or UWW Google Form below 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.
- UWW Bottle Labels - use these to make sample collection notes of date/time, location, water temp, etc.
Use this app to report a visual bloom in the field. The app is available on Android or iOS or by clicking the photo above. 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 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.
(Note - you will need to be signed into a Google account to submit information using this form).
Use this link to report microscope data to the NOAA phytoplankton Monitoring Network. Any positive hits of cyanobacteria, send photos to email@example.com for verification.
Utah volunteers use a similar login - if you are interested in participating, contact UWW at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-797-2580.
Utah Department of Water Quality Website- Updates about advisories and monitoring.
Live water quality data via buoys- Buoys deployed at several reservoirs and lakes around the state
NOAA HAB site- Everything from education to ecoforecasting
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.