Forget about temporary warnings of algal blooms on Utah Lake — the Utah County Health Department is putting up permanent warning signs.
The permanent Harmful Algal Bloom (or HAB) signs are meant to be educational and raise awareness of the blooms, which were found earlier this month near the Saratoga Springs Picnic Area and have hit the lake for the previous three summers.
“The signs are more infographic in their approach and should help us to better communicate with those who are using Utah Lake,” Ralph Clegg, the department’s executive director, said in a news release.
The signs are already in place in Provo Harbor, south of the Provo Marina, according to the release, due to sample results there. Warning signs are being posted both at Provo Marina and Sandy Beach, common access points to the harbor.
The installation was a joint effort of the county health department, the Utah Lake Commission, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Quality.
Blue-green algae are a natural part of many freshwater ecosystems, but when conditions are right — with high nutrients in the water, warm temperatures, plenty of sunlight and calm water — they can grow rapidly. The blooms produce cyanobacteria, which can be a health risk to people, pets, wildlife and fish.
Symptoms of exposure to cyanobacteria can include headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes allergy-type reactions from skin contact.
Nutrients that feed explosive algal growth often come from pollution, including agricultural runoff and municipal discharge. The growth accelerates when the weather is hot and water levels are low.
Residents can sign up for updates about Utah Lake, including warnings and closures, by going to the county health department’s website, www.alerts.utahcounty.gov. Alerts are available via text, email or phone.