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Scofield Reservoir Algal Bloom 2016

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Update: October 11, 2016

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has suspended harmful algal bloom (HAB) data collection. The Southeast Utah Health Department continues to conduct weekly visits to the reservoir to observe conditions. A CAUTION advisory remains on the reservoir and will likely remain until the end of October.


Update: September 26, 2016

Cyanobacteria counts for samples collected on September 22, 2016, were much improved from previous weeks, However, toxin levels continue to exceed 10 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at several sample sites within the reservoir, indicating that either a source remains that is contributing to the toxins or the bloom is remarkably persistent.

Cyanobacteria Cell-Count Concentrations

Cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations for samples collected on September 22, 2016, showed a significant decrease in cell levels at the Mountain View Boat Ramp (2,230 cells per milliliter (cells/mL). Levels at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp were also well below threshold concentrations at 5,040 cells/mL. Levels at the Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp were in the low to moderate risk range (20,000 to 100,000 cells/mL) at 32,918 cells/mL.

No cyanobacteria were present in the sample for the Price River below the Scofield Dam. The sample collected on the Price River at Ivy Street Bridge contained debris that made it too dense to conduct a cell count.

Draft Toxin Results

Screening-level toxin test strips showed microcystin levels greater than 10 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp and the Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp. Microcystin levels at the Mountain View Boat Ramp declined significantly from their extraordinarily high values a few weeks ago to 5 ug/L in the September 22, 2016, sample.

Initial toxin screening for the Price River below Scofield Dam site showed microcystin concentrations of 5 ug/L. Another sample taken at the Price River at Ivy Street Bridge site was too muddy, which invalidated the results.


Update: September 19, 2016

EPA toxin analysis for a sample taken on September 13, 2016, at the Mountain View Boat Ramp showed microcystin concentrations of approximately 56 micrograms per liter (ug/L), a significant drop from samples taken at the boat ramp on August 31, 2016, that showed unprecedented concentrations of 60,000 ug/L. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality and Utah Department of Health, based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, suggest a warning advisory for concentrations between 20 and 2000 ug/L.

The EPA lab used liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection (LC/MS/MS), a testing technique used by the EPA to separate, detect, and identify specific toxin congeners, toxin types that are similar to each other but not the same structurally.


Update: September 14, 2016

The Southeast Utah Health Department has re-opened Scofield Reservoir to boating and fishing. Recent toxin tests show that microcystin concentrations do not pose a public health threat for on-water recreational activities.

Health department officials caution against engaging in recreational activities such as swimming and water-skiing that involve immersion in the water. Pet and livestock owners should continue to keep their animals out of the water.

Toxin levels below the dam have also decreased, making it safe to fish in those areas. Anglers are urged to clean their catch with fresh, potable water.

Cyanobacteria cell count concentrations for samples collected September 13, 2016, were below the 20,000 cells/milliliter (mL) threshold at all sites on Scofield Reservoir, with the exception of the Mountain View boat ramp, which had concentrations of approximately 27,000 cells/mL.


Update: September 13, 2016

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has received final toxin reports for samples taken at Scofield Reservoir on August 29. 2016, and August 31, 2016, along with preliminary results from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lab for samples taken September 6, 2016. DWQ has also received cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations from samples taken on September 6, 2016.

Microcystin concentrations were >50 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at a number of sampling sites, with several locations reaching record-high levels of toxins.

Sampling Results

September 6, 2016, Cyanobacteria Cell-Count Concentrations (Excel)

Cell-count concentrations have been dropping, with most counts in the low to moderate risk range (20,000-100,000 cells per milliliter (mL):

  • Scofield Open Water: 33,737 cells/mL
  • Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp: 31,694 cells/mL
  • Mountain View Boat Ramp: 51,951 cells/mL
  • Price River below Scofield: 55,893 cells/mL

Madsen Bay had cell counts in the moderate to high risk range (100,000 to 10 million cells/mL), with concentrations at 122,481 cells/mL.

Toxin levels continue to be elevated, but reductions in the cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations may signal a weakening of the bloom.

August 31, 2016, Cyanobacteria Cell-Count Concentrations (Excel)

Cyanobacterial cell count results from samples taken on August 31, 2016, were in the moderate to high risk range (100,000 to 10 million cells/milliliter (mL) at three sample sites: Scofield Upper End, Scofield Open Water, and Madsen Bay. Cell counts were in the low to moderate risk range (20,000 to 100,000 cells/mL) at the Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp, and in the very low risk range (<20,000 cells/mL) at the Price River at Ivy Bridge.

  • Scofield Upper End: 108,144 cells/mL
  • Scofield Open Water: 1.2 million cells/mL
  • Madsen Bay: 131,147 cells/mL
  • Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp: 50,174 cells/mL
  • Price River at Ivy Bridge: 8,104 cells/mL
Microcystin concentrations

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality and Utah Department of Health, based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, suggest a caution advisory for microcystin concentrations in recreational waters between 4 - 20 ug/L, a warning advisory for concentrations between 20 and 2000 ug/L, and a danger advisory for concentrations >2,000 ug/L.

Toxin testing results for August 29, 2016, August 31, 2016, and September 6, 2016, showed a wide variability in microcystin concentrations at the same sample sites over the course of several days, reflecting the unpredictable nature of blooms and cyanotoxin production.

September 6, 2016, Draft Toxin Results (EPA Region 8 Lab - Golden, Colorado, Excel)

The latest toxin test results show microcystin concentrations in the reservoir have dropped significantly. However, toxin levels still pose a threat to downstream users, as microcystin concentrations >20 ug/L continue to be exported below the reservoir into the Price River. Mycrocystin concentrations (draft results) included the following:

  • Scofield Open Water: 9.16 ug/L
  • Madsen Bay Boat Ramp: 25.8 ug/L
  • Price River below Scofield Dam: 23.1 ug/L

August 31, 2016, Toxin Results (GreenWater Labs, Florida, Excel)

GreenWater Labs ELISA toxin testing methods were capable of measuring total microcystin concentrations above 50 ug/L. Test results showed microcystin concentrations at the Mountain View Boat Ramp reached an unprecedented 60,000 ug/L. Microcystin concentration averages included the following:

  • Scofield Open Water: 329 ug/L
  • Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp: 14.44 ug/L
  • Mountain View Boat Ramp: 60,000 ug/L
  • Madsen Bay Boat Ramp: 17.8 ug/L
  • Scofield Upper End (West Side): 30.4 ug/L

August 29, 2016, Toxin Results (EPA Region 8 Lab - Golden, Colorado, Excel)

The Mountain View Boat Ramp, Scofield Open Water site, Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp, Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, and the middle of Madsen Bay all had total microcystin concentrations greater than 50 micrograms per liter (ug/L). Actual levels may be higher because EPA ELISA tests only measure to >50 ug/L, and measurements beyond 50 ug/L are estimates. For a wider range of accuracy, DWQ sent follow-up samples to GreenWater Labs (see August 31,2016, update).

A number of cyanobacteria species produce microcystins. In addition, at least 100 microcystin congeners — toxin types that are similar to each other but not the same structurally — are known. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection (LC/MS/MS) is a testing technique used by the EPA to separate, detect, and identify specific toxin congeners. Labs often use microcystin-LR, one of the most widespread toxin congeners, as a measure for microcystins. Toxin testing using LC/MS/MS for specific toxin congeners showed that the Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp had microcystin- LR concentrations of 1890 ug/L. The LC/MS/MS method detected the following microcystin-LR concentrations at Scofield sample sites:

  • Scofield Open Water: 6.99 ug/L
  • Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp: 1890 ug/L
  • Mountain View Boat Ramp: 349 ug/L
  • Madsen Bay Boat Ramp: 11.5 ug/L
  • Madsen Bay (Middle of Bay): 43.3 ug/L
  • Price River below the dam: 4.33 ug/L

Update: September 7, 2016

Samples taken September 2, 2016

The Southeast Utah Health Department has lifted its advisory on the secondary use of Price River water for crop irrigation and stock watering based on toxin test-strip results from samples taken September 2, 2016, at the Ivy Street Bridge in Helper, Carbon Canal at the golf course, and the Price Canal near the Carbon School District Offices. The health department recommends that individuals fishing the Price River below Scofield exercise caution, stay out of the water, and clean fish with fresh, potable water.


Scofield reservoir remains closed. 

 


Update: September 6, 2016

Sampling Results

Screening-level toxin test strip results from a sample taken at the Price River at the Ivy Street Bridge in Helper on August 31, 2016, showed microcystin concentrations greater than 10 ug/L. These concentrations suggested a potential threat to downstream water users, so the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) collected three additional samples on Friday, September 2, 2016.

Screening-level toxin test strips for the September 2, 2016, samples showed a significant decrease in the microcystin concentrations at the Ivy Street Bridge site (0 micrograms per liter (ug/L). The two other sampling sites also measured below 10 ug/L: Carbon Canal Golf Course (5 ug/L) and Carbon Canal at Ridge Rd (1 ug/L).

DWQ is collecting samples today, September 6, 2016, near Scofield Reservoir. Results from these samples are not anticipated until later this week.


Update: September 2, 2016

News Release: Price River Water Users Advised to Seek Other Sources (pdf)

User Advisory

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food issued an advisory to farmers and ranchers recommending that they not let their livestock drink water from Scofield Reservoir or the Price River and find alternate water sources to irrigate their crops.

Alternative water sources may be available from the Price River Water Improvement District at (435) 637-6351.

Sampling Results

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ), in conjunction with the Southeast Utah Health Department, collected samples on Scofield Reservoir and the Price River on August 29, 2016, and August 31, 2016.

EPA Region 8 Labs provided the following Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) toxin results from the August 29, 2016 samples:

Scofield Reservoir

The Mountain View Boat Ramp, Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp, Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, and the middle of Madsen Bay all had microcystin concentrations greater than 50 micrograms per liter (ug/L). Actual levels may be higher because EPA ELISA tests only measure to >50 ug/L.

A site in the middle of Scofield Reservoir had a microcystin concentration of 22.2 ug/L.

Price River

The Price River immediately below Scofield Reservoir had a microcystin concentration of 46.4 ug/L.

DWQ and the Southeastern Utah Health Department collected additional toxin screens Friday, September 2, 2016, to further characterize the extent of the toxins.


Update: September 1, 2016

Sampling Results

DWQ received the following results from samples collected on August 31, 2016, for Scofield Reservoir and the Price River.

Scofield Reservoir

Screening-level toxin test strip results from all Scofield sites (Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp, Mountain View Boat Ramp, and the dam) show microcystin concentrations greater than 10 micrograms per liter (ug/L). All samples will be sent to Greenwater Labs for further toxin testing.

Price River

Screening-level toxin test strip results from sampling conducted on August 31, 2016, at the Price River at the Ivy Street Bridge site in Helper showed microcystin concentrations greater than 10 ug/L.

A sonde (measuring instrument) was deployed 1/4 mile west of the Mountain View Boat Ramp to collect temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and conductivity data.

State Parks has closed the boat ramps.


Update: August 31, 2016

The Southeast Utah Health Department is restricting recreational use of Scofield Reservoir, starting immediately, due to a harmful algal bloom that may pose a serious health risk to the public and animals. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says lab results for samples they collected indicate the presence of toxins in the water.

The campground remains open. The Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID) has stated that the drinking water supply is being carefully monitored. The PRWID recently installed additional capability to treat the water supply with ozone to reduce and remove algae and its precursors.


Update: August 30, 2016

Sampling Results

Cyanobacteria cell count results from samples taken on August 29, 2016 were in the moderate to high risk range (100,000 to 10 million cells/milliliter (mL) at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp (1.6 million cells/mL), Mountain View Boat Ramp (4.8 million cells/mL), and Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp (6.3 million cells/mL). Cell counts decreased to the low to moderate risk range (20,000 to 100,000 cells/mL) at the Price River below Scofield Reservoir (43,000 cells/mL).

Screening-level toxin test strips showed microcystin concentrations >10 ug/L at all sites: Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, State Park Mountain Boat Ramp, Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp, Price River below Scofield, and at Scofield Site 01.

A large fish kill of chub, some dead waterfowl, and three dead bats were also reported along the shores of the reservoir.

Drinking Water: Price and Helper

Drinking Water: Price and Helper

Residents of the greater Price area have expressed concerns about the impacts of the Scofield Reservoir algal bloom on their drinking water. Price area drinking-water plants have taken all appropriate measures and conducted testing to ensure that culinary water is safe for customer use.

Price City

Price City is treating drinking water with conventional water treatment processes and specialized chemical treatment. The city’s treatment plant is taking all appropriate measures to treat and test the culinary water supplied to Price City customers to ensure the water is safe for drinking, bathing, watering, and other regular use. Anyone with questions or concerns may contact the Price City Public Works Department at (435) 637-5010.

Price River Water Improvement District

The Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID) is taking all appropriate steps to pre-treat and treat all Price River Water before it exits the treatment plant as finished water. Currently, PRWID is pre-treating Price River Water by coagulating it and using a high dose of ozonation to eliminate cyanobacteria before it enters the plant. Once inside the plant, the river water is subject to full chemical treatment and chlorination after filtration. This process follows guidelines set forth by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) for the treatment of cyanobacteria in drinking water systems.

Helper

Drinking water in Helper comes from two springs and is not affected by the algal bloom.


Update: August 29, 2016

DEQ received a call to its 24-hour spill line on August 27, 2016, reporting a fish kill and algal bloom on the northern end of Scofield Reservoir. Coordinated sampling of cyanobacteria and water-quality measurements will be taking place today. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are investigating the fish and waterfowl deaths.

Cyanobacteria cell count results from August 23, 2016, sampling were in the moderate to high risk range (100,000 to 10 million cells/milliliter (mL) for samples taken at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp (3 million cells/mL), Mountain View Boat Camp (316,000 cells/mL), Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp (5 million cells/mL) and the Price River below Scofield Reservoir (236,000 cells/mL).

Microcystin concentrations from screening-level toxin test strips for the August 23, 2016, samples were >10 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, State Park Mountain Boat Ramp, and Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp. Samples were sent to EPA for further toxin analysis.


Update: August 26, 2016

Toxin test results for samples collected August 16, 2016, show microcystin concentrations at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp (58 ug/L) and Frandsen Boy Scout Camp (67.7 ug/L) in the moderate to high human health risk category.

Based on these toxin results, the Southeastern Utah District Health Department is posting WARNING signs at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp and Frandsen Boy Scout Camp. The public should not swim in water bodies under a WARNING advisory. While boating activities are allowed under a WARNING advisory, recreators should avoid areas of scum. In areas with a CAUTION advisory, swimming and other water activities are allowed, but recreators should stay out of areas of scum. Pets and livestock should not be allowed in or allowed to drink the water at any advisory level.

Screening-level toxin test strips for samples collected August 23, 2016, showed the persistence of microcystin toxin concentrations >10 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at all Scofield sampling sites, including State Park Mountain, Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, and the Frandsen Boy Scout Camp. Toxin test strips showed microcystin concentrations of 5 ug/L in the Price River below Scofield.

Cyanobacteria cell counts and species identification results for the August 16, 2016, and August 23, 2016, samples are expected later today. Toxin test results for the August 23, 2016, samples should be available next week.


Update: August 22, 2016

Sampling Results

DWQ has received the following results from sampling conducted on August 16, 2016.

Cyanobacteria cell counts were in the low to moderate range (20,000 to 100,000 cells/mL) from samples taken at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, Mountain View Boat Camp, and Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp. Cyanobacteria cell count concentrations increased in the Price River below Scofield Reservoir, but are still in the low to moderate range (20,000 to 100,000 cells/mL).

Microcystins from screening level toxin test strips were >10 ug/L at Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, Mountain View Boat Camp and Frandsen Bay Boy Scout Camp. The samples will be sent for further toxin analysis. Anatoxin-a and Cylindrospermopsin were non-detect.


Update: August 15, 2016

Sampling Results

DWQ has received cyanobacteria cell-count results from August 9, 2016, sampling. Toxin results from this sampling should be available later this week. The division will continue to coordinate with the local health departments and other partner agencies as results come in.

DWQ and its partners will continue to sample Scofield Reservoir until cell counts and toxin concentrations are within the low-risk range for two consecutive samples.

Cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations dramatically decreased at the Frandsen Boy Scout Camp (19,670 cells/mL), but increased at Madsen Bay, where cell count concentrations were in the moderate to high-risk range (100,000 to 10 million cells/mL). Cell count concentrations in the Price River remain very low. Field staff noted that there were no visible clumps or streaks of algae on the surface. Caution signs remain posted.


Update: August 9, 2016

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has received cyanobacteria cell count and toxin results from sampling conducted on August 2, 2016, at Scofield Reservoir.

Cyanobacterial cell counts were very low at the Mountain View State Park Boat Ramp and the Price River below Scofield. Madsen Bay Boat Ramp had levels of approximately 4,000 cells/ml. One sample at the Frandsen Boy Scout Camp Dock was approximately 60,000 cells/mL, which falls within the low to moderate range of risk. However, further testing indicated that the sample collected from the Boy Scout Camp dock contained very high levels of microcystin, a toxin known to cause liver damage.

  • Scofield Madsen Bay at Boat Ramp: (3.41 micrograms (µg/L) microcystin-LR)
  • Scofield Frandsen Boy Scout Camp Dock (193 µg/L microcystin-LR)

Levels lower than 10 µg/L have a low relative probability of acute health effects, while levels greater than 20 µg/L have a high probability of acute health effects. Microcystin levels at the Boy Scout Camp dock indicate a relatively high probability of serious health effects from recreational uses of the water.

Two of the other toxins tested, cylindrospermopsin and saxitoxin, were not detected in the samples.

The entrance to the Boy Scout Camp is locked, and there are no plans to use the camp for the rest of the summer. "Caution" signs are posted at the State Park gates that advise users to avoid areas of scum.


Update: July 26, 2016

After a report of an algal bloom in Scofield Reservoir on July 22, 2016, DWQ collected samples at 2 locations on the reservoir and 2 locations on the Price River downstream. Preliminary results show elevated algal concentrations of 3 species of cyanobacteria at the Scofield State Park Harbor (700,000 cells/mL to 1.5 million cells/mL) indicating a moderate to high risk to human health. Low algal concentrations were reported at the Madsen Boat Harbor and at the 2 locations in the Price River downstream. In addition, toxin screening tests at the Madsen Boat Harbor and the Price River Water Improvement District were negative

Although preliminary field tests did not detect cyanotoxins in the water near the Price water treatment plant, the presence of high counts of Dolichospermum sp. is a concern because it tends to produce toxins. Toxin results should be available by Friday, July 29, 2016.

DWQ followed up with a sample collection today at three sites: State Park Harbor, the Boy Scout camp, and on the Price River downstream of the Scofield Dam.


Update: July 22, 2016

Algal Bloom Reported on Scofield Reservoir

An Environmental Incident Report was filed after Justin Hart, Division of Wildlife Resources, reported a blue-green algae bloom on Scofield Reservoir and swimmers developing a rash after swimming on July 21, 2016. DWQ worked with Scott Hacking, DEQ District Engineer, to collect samples today on the shoreline, downstream of the reservoir in the Price River, and at points on the Price River at the intakes to drinking-water facilities. Samples will be analyzed for algal concentration, species identification, and toxin concentrations. Strip tests were performed for anatoxin and microcystin presence at the site and came back negative. Sample results are expected on July 25, 2016 for the algal concentration and species identification, and July 28, 2016, for toxin concentrations.