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Wasatch County Health Issues Advisory for Harmful Algal Bloom at Deer Creek Reservoir


Wasatch County Health Department issued an advisory about harmful bacteria in Deer Creek Reservoir.

Deer Creek is still open for recreation, but officials advise visitors to avoid swimming in areas of the water with algae.  

Dr. Kate Fickas, with the Utah Division of Water Quality, said parents should make sure to keep an eye out for harmful algal blooms. 

"We asked parents to keep their kids and dogs out {...} and making sure that they're washing their hands after swimming," Fickas said.

Even though they’re asking visitors to avoid swimming in the water, other recreational activities, like boating and fishing, are still safe. 


"It's a very rare occurrence that a whole water body would be closed," she said. "It's just from their perspective, painting a balance between what type of recreation. So our warning advisory ask that recreators make sure that they don't ingest the water."

She said last week was the first time the division had seen a high magnitude bloom this year, but it’s not unusual for the blooms to start at this time of year. 

"Deer Creek is a known harmful algal bloom issue," she said. "Our monitoring team is out there every month, taking a look to see if so there's signs of harmful algal blooms, and cyanobacteria. And Deer Creek is one that we know that usually waits until late in the season."

And she said it’s unlikely that Deer Creek will be completely safe until next year. 

"Deer Creek in general has typically, at least the past few years, gone on advisory in September, and then not gone off of advisory until November when the recreation season is over," Fickas said.

She said if there’s more cold fronts then the algae could be knocked out, but if it continues to be sunny outside, then it’s likely the algae blooms will continue for the rest of the season. 

She also described what algae blooms look like, so visitors can avoid the areas.


"It can look like pea soup. Kind of just like a green film on the surface. Just the water column can be a bright green," she said.


Fickas added, "some of the most dangerous can be if you see a teal or turquoise accumulation along the shoreline, that means that the cyanobacteria cells have died. And when they die, that's when they're at their most toxic."

For more information and updates on algae blooms you can visit utah.gov.


Jessica joins KPCW as a general assignment reporter and Sunday Weekend Edition host. A Florida native, she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in English — concentrating in film studies — and journalism. Before moving to Utah, she spent time in Atlanta, GA.
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