Is it safe to swim? Toxic algal blooms persist in Virgin River

The bacteria produced by the blooms can be harmful to humans and pets, particularly dogs.

(Mark Eddington | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Virgin River as seen near a bluff near Virgin, Utah, on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.

With the temperatures on the rise, those familiar with the cyanobacteria previously found in the Virgin River and other water bodies across the state may be asking: Is it safe to go back in the water?

For nearly four years now – from LaVerkin Creek to the North Fork in Zion National Park and south into St. George and Arizona – the lingering presence of harmful algae blooms in the Virgin River that produces toxic bacteria has been the subject of recurring health advisories and warnings from state and federal agencies.

The bacteria produced by the blooms can be harmful to humans and pets, particularly dogs.

“If people know what to look for when it comes to these harmful algae mats, they can make good recreational decisions,” Dr. Hannah Bonner, the Utah Division of Water Quality’s recreational water quality program coordinator, told St. George News.

Read the full story at stgeorgeutah.com.