Utah DEQ News

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Warning Advisory Issued for Scofield Reservoir

Scofield reservoir

Madsen Bay Boat Ramp. Click for larger view.

The Southeast Health Department issued a harmful algal bloom (HAB) Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir after Division of Water Quality (DWQ) samples showed that cyanobacteria cell counts and anatoxin-a levels exceeded health-based thresholds. The Madsen Bay Boat Ramp, Mountain View Boat Ramp, and Boy Scout Camp currently show the heaviest bloom activity.

A DWQ monitoring crew observed increased bloom activity during July 5, 2018, sampling at the reservoir. Toxin test-strip results and subsequent Utah Public Health Lab (UPHL) testing came back non-detect for microcystin, but test strips and UPHL tests were both positive for anatoxin-a. Cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations were well above health-based thresholds, with cell densities of more 3.4 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml) at the Madsen Bay Boat Ramp and greater than 250,000 cells/ml at the Mountain View Boat ramp. All cyanobacteria found in the samples were identified as Dolichospermum, a toxin-producing genus of cyanobacteria.

The monitoring crew returned to Scofield Reservoir to collect additional samples on July 10 and July 12, 2018. DWQ scientists, the DEQ District Engineer, and Southeast Health Department officials observed additional bloom activity at the Boy Scout Camp and the upstream inlet of Madsen Bay.

Based on cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations, the detection of anatoxin-a at sampling sites, and visual observations, the Southeast Health Department issued a Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir.

According to the Southeast Utah Health Department, city drinking water and Price River Water Improvement District (PRWID)-supplied water is treated and is safe to drink. Canal water is currently unaffected by any residual bloom.

While some areas of Scofield Reservoir are not currently affected by visible blooms, algae may move or disperse depending on temperature, wind, and weather. Recreationists are advised to be mindful of conditions, as they may change over the course of the day.

DWQ will return to Scofield Reservoir on July 16, 2018, to collect additional samples and track bloom activity.

Warning Advisory for Scofield Reservoir

A Warning Advisory indicates a moderate relative probability of acute health risk, cell-count density of 20,000 – 10 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml), microcystin levels of 4-2,000 micrograms per liter (µg/L), or anatoxin-a levels above non-detect. Advisory actions:

  • Do not swim or water ski
  • Do not ingest the water
  • Keep pets and livestock away
  • Clean fish well and discard guts
  • Avoid areas of scum when boating

Visit habs.utah.gov for more information and updates on bloom conditions at Scofield Reservoir.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: How to Recycle Right in Utah

Click to learn where to recycle common household waste that doesn’t belong in the curbside recycling bin.

By Jared Mendenhall

Most Utah communities offer curbside recycling. But not all recycling is created equally. There are a handful of common household items that should never go in the general recycling bin. That doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the recycling-minded among us. Below is a quick look at what to do with the recyclable trash that doesn’t go to the curb.

Plastic Bags

Plastic bags require a different collection system and processing equipment than other recyclables. Including them in your curbside bin causes unintended headaches for the recycling company and sanitation workers.

Instead, most grocery stores provide containers to collect used bags for recycling. Residents should simply return their old shopping bags to the store they came from.

In the end, though, reusable grocery bags are the best choice to minimize pollution.

Glass Bottles

The long-lasting nature of glass means it can be recycled forever. Old bottles and jars can be remanufactured into new bottles and jars. And, it can be done over and over and over again.

Different types of glass, however, have different melting points. Some glass is made to withstand high temperatures, while others are made to hold cold drinks. Typically, only glass from bottles, not vases, cookware or windows, can be recycled.

For the most part, glass isn’t allowed in general recycling bins. More and more cities are offering curbside glass recycling, but it isn’t universal. Residents can find glass recycling drop-off locations through their city or on the web.

Along the Wasatch Front, Momentum Recycling has many drop-off locations for glass bottles.


Styrofoam, technically a number 6 plastic, is not processed through local recycling efforts. It should be sorted and dropped off to a third-party.

Marko Foam Products in Salt Lake takes and recycles Styrofoam. They ask that Styrofoam be free of any contaminates or labels. Marko does not accept food containers or packing peanuts.

Some packing and shipping companies, like UPS, will reuse used (but clean) packing peanuts.

Electronics and Batteries

Most electronic waste and batteries contain toxic heavy metals that can contaminate soil and water.

Recycle old electronics and batteries at hazardous waste facilities, county recycling centers or community hazardous waste collections. There are also dozens of retail locations that collect old electronics.

Animal Waste

A common misconception surrounding pet waste is that it serves as a natural fertilizer and can simply be disposed of in a yard waste bin. Although cow or horse waste is used as a soil enhancer, pet waste is a different story. To be used as a fertilizer, animal waste must contain mostly digested plant material. Household pets are omnivores and their waste isn’t a safe fertilizer. Pet waste should go in a standard trash receptacle.

Hazardous Waste

Products, such as paints, oils and cleaners often contain hazardous ingredients and require special disposal. Pouring this type of waste down the drain, on the ground, into storm drains or in with the regular trash can pollute the environment, threaten human health and contaminate wastewater treatment systems.

Most auto parts stores will take used motor oil. You can also search the web for a hazardous waste drop-off location in your area.

Light Bulbs

Light bulbs have come a long way since Thomas Edison. Each variation of the light bulb must be recycled differently.

Incandescent and halogen bulbs don’t contain toxic chemicals, so they can go in with the regular trash. If you want to recycle old incandescent light bulbs, most home-improvement stores and recycling centers accept “regular old light bulbs.”

Unlike incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs (or Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) contain mercury. Broken CFL bulbs can damage the environment if they enter landfills or the water supply.

To dispose of CFL bulbs properly, recycle them. Most home improvement-stores and recycling centers accept old CFL bulbs.

LED light bulbs don’t contain hazardous chemicals. It is safe to throw them out with the trash. Some of the components in LED bulbs may be recyclable. So, check with your local recycling company to see if they accept LEDs.

For more information on household recycling visit the Division of Waste Management and Radiations Controls recycling page. For help finding recycling locations in your county, visit our interactive map page.

Jared Mendenhall, Utah, DEQI am a public information officer for DEQ and a former marketer and magazine editor. Follow me on Instagram @Jarv801.

Fireworks, Air Quality, and Wildfires, Oh My!

By DEQ Communications Office


Fireworks are beautiful, but they can hurt air quality and cause wildfires.

For many people, the Fourth of July wouldn’t BE the Fourth of July without fireworks. But these pyrotechnic displays also produce high concentrations of smoke and particulates (PM) that can harm our air quality and pose a risk to individuals who are sensitive to particulate pollution. And professional displays aren’t the only source of PM pollution — smaller gatherings of neighbors or families lighting fireworks can also contribute to a decrease in an area’s short-term air quality and pose particular health risks to those living nearby.

The 2018 Utah legislature passed HB38 to limit the number of days Utahns can shoot individual fireworks. Under the new law, people will be able to legally use fireworks between July 2-5 and July 22-25. It also gives cities the power to ban fireworks in certain areas depending on fire hazards. While this is good news for our overall air quality during the summer, it still means there will still be days when the PM pollution spikes as holiday celebrations get underway.


Fireworks smoke is largely composed of two types of particulate matter: course particulates (PM10) and fine particulates (PM2.5). Short-term exposure to fine particle pollution can pose health concerns, particularly for children, older adults, and those with respiratory conditions. This smoke can aggravate lung disease, cause asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures have been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. 

Particulates aren’t the only pollutants linked to fireworks. From the sulfur and potassium in the gunpowder that powers them to the heavy metals that provide the explosions of color, fireworks contain a potent blend of toxic compounds. Although perchlorate, an oxidizer that fuels the reaction, tends to dissipate during combustion, remnants can still be found on the soil and water after fireworks shows. Heavy metals supply the colors we associate with fireworks shows– barium for glistening greens, lithium and strontium compounds for bursts of red, copper for flashes of blue, and aluminum for dazzling white. These metals can be inhaled or make their way into the water and soil. While one fireworks display is unlikely to cause lasting health effects, repeated exposure can be problematic.    

Division of Air Quality (DAQ) monitors consistently show extremely high short-term concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 associated with fireworks. In fact, Ogden City’s worst air day doesn’t occur in the winter — it happens on July 4, when particulate concentrations can jump to 20 times higher than normal. These readings are in line with research on the impacts fireworks have on air quality nationwide. A 2015 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) quantified the spike in fine particulate matter on July 4 using observations from 315 U.S. air-quality monitoring sites over a 14-year period. The research showed that the average concentrations of particulates over the 24-hour period beginning at 8 p.m. on July 4 were 42 percent greater than on the days before and after the holiday.

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows states to classify air-quality exceedances from fireworks as exceptional events for regulatory reporting purposes, high particulate levels still impact health over the short-term. These health impacts increase if elevated ozone levels or wildfire smoke are also present.

DAQ recommends that individuals affected by fine particulate pollution avoid fireworks displays or view them from a safe distance. Those who are particularly sensitive may want to stay indoors, especially during the evening, and close the windows so that indoor air is not affected.



Visit Utah Fire Info for a list of areas with personal fireworks bans in place. Click for larger view.

This summer, as in previous summers, fireworks pose an additional threat to air quality: wildfires. Wildfire smoke is composed of a complex mixture of gases, fine particles, and water vapor that form when organic matter burns. Particulates from smoke are a mixture of solid particles—pieces of wood and other burning solids—and liquid droplets. As with fireworks smoke, the biggest health threat from wildfire smoke comes from fine particles.

Tinder-dry conditions across Utah mean one errant spark from an aerial or a fountain could set acres of wildlands on fire. According to Utah Fire Info, 27 human-caused fires were started in Utah over a two-day period last week. Governor Herbert has issued personal firework bans or restrictions for unincorporated areas of the state and state lands and many communities have followed suit.

We want everybody to have a safe and healthy Fourth of July. Consider alternative ways to celebrate the holidays with your family and friends and be mindful of the impacts fireworks have on the air we all breathe.

We provide hourly air-quality monitoring, a three-day action forecast, and health forecast on our website and our UtahAir app, available for free for Apple and Android mobile devices. For up-to-date information on the air-quality impacts from wildfires, visit Utah Fire Info or the NOAA website for real-time forecasts on the emissions and smoke transport from wildfires in Utah and neighboring states.


Lincoln Beach/Marina at Utah Lake Closed Due to Harmful Algal Bloom

Utah Lake

Lincoln Marina, Utah Lake. Photo courtesy Utah County Health Department

The Utah County Health Department (UCHD) closed the Lincoln Marina on June 29, 2018, due to exceptionally high cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations. UCHD also posted Danger/Closure signs in the Lincoln Beach area of Utah Lake.

Swedes Access (Provo Bay), the State Park Day Use Area, and Sandy Beach areas continue to be under a Warning Advisory.

The situation at Lincoln Marina has worsened considerably since last week, with cell-count densities in the June 25, 2018, sample containing concentrations 14 times greater than the June 20, 2018 sample. Cell-count concentrations at Lincoln Marina currently exceed the recommended recreational health-based threshold for a DANGER advisory. In addition, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) toxin testing by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) lab showed microcystin levels of  >500 µg/L  after a 100x dilution. Toxin levels could prove to be even higher after further dilutions.

Toxin Test Results

Toxin test results from the UDAF lab for samples collected on June 25, 2018, showed high levels of microcystins at Swedes Access and Sandy Beach and extremely high levels of microcystins at Lincoln Marina.

  • Swedes Access (Provo Bay): 7.9 micrograms per liter (µg/L)
  • State Park Day Use Area: Non-detect
  • Sandy Beach: 11.3 µg/L
  • Lincoln Marina: >500 µg/L

Microcystin values for the June 25, 2018 sample in Lincoln Marina may increase after further laboratory dilutions/analysis.

Cell-count Concentrations

Dolichospermum, a particularly toxic cyanobacteria, was the primary cyanobacteria genus present in the samples. Dolichospermum made up 98 percent of the Lincoln Marina sample,  which explains the extremely high toxin levels found in the June 25, 2018, sample. All cell-count concentrations exceed the recommended recreational health thresholds for a Warning advisory, and Lincoln Marina cell-count concentrations exceed the recommended recreational health-based threshold for a Danger advisory.  

  • Swedes Access (Provo Bay): >2.8 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml)
  • State Park: 30,989 cells/ml
  • Sandy Beach: 617,850 cells/ml
  • Lincoln Marina: >36 million cells/ml (well above the recommended recreational health-based threshold of 10 million cells/ml)

For more information, read the full news release (06/29/2018)

Harmful Algal Bloom Spreads in Utah Lake

Lincoln Marina, June 20, 2018

The Utah County Health Department (UCHD) has issued a Warning Advisory for Utah Lake due to toxin levels that exceed health-based thresholds. UCHD advises people, their pets, and other animals to stay out of Provo Bay, Lincoln Marina, Sandy Beach, and the Utah Lake State Park Day Use area.

The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) conducted sampling on June 20, 2018, at eight Utah Lake sites. Toxin test-strip results from three of the sample sites exceeded the recommended health advisory threshold for microcystins, a cyanotoxin that can cause liver damage. Utah Public Health Lab enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing confirmed the toxin test-strip results.

The health department is posting warning signs at the affected locations. DWQ scientists collected additional samples at these sites on June 25, 2018.

While some areas on Utah Lake are not currently affected by the blooms, algae may move or disperse depending on temperature, wind, and weather. Recreationists are advised to be mindful of conditions, as they may change over the course of the day.

Sandy Beach, June 20, 2018

Warning Advisory for Portions of Utah Lake

A Warning Advisory indicates a moderate relative probability of acute health risk, a cell-count density of 20,000 – 10 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml), microcystin levels of 4-2,000 micrograms per liter (µg/L), or anatoxin-a levels above non-detect. Advisory actions:

  • Do not swim or water ski
  • Do not ingest the water
  • Keep pets and livestock away
  • Clean fish well and discard guts
  • Avoid areas of scum when boating

Toxin Test Results

 ELISA testing by the Utah Public Health Lab, followed by 10x dilutions on samples with microcystin concentrations greater than the upper limit of the test (5 micrograms per liter (µg/L), showed the following microcystin levels in the June 20, 2018, Utah Lake water samples:

  • Lincoln Marina: >50.0 micrograms per liter (µg/L)
  • Sandy Beach: >50.0 µg/L
  • Utah State Park Day Use Area: 17 µg/L
  • Swede Access: 4.3 µg/L

Cyanobacteria Cell Count Concentrations

All samples from June 20, 2018, were dominated by Dolichospermum, a  toxic genus of cyanobacteria. Cell-count densities exceeded health-based thresholds. The following cell counts were for toxigenic cyanobacteria only.

  • Lincoln Marina: >2.5 million cells per milliliter (cells/ml)
  • Sandy Beach: >1.4 million cells/ml
  • State Park Day Use Area: >539,000 cells/ml

Read the full press release.

DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water Makes Sure You Can #TrustYourTap

By Marie E. Owens


Photo Credit: Ned Horton

A cold glass of water during a summer softball game. A hot bath after a long day at work. Your toddler’s squeals of joy when you wrap her in a blanket straight from the dryer. A(nother) delicious Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. The minty taste on your tongue after you brush your teeth. Clean sheets. Spaghetti.  Ice cubes. Lemonade. What do all these things have in common?

Safe, clean drinking water.

Have you ever stopped to think about how often you “interact” with water during the course of your day? Probably more than you think! That’s because clean, accessible drinking water is a basic human need…we need it for drinking, cooking, washing, and bathing. In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the amount of water we drink can even have a significant impact on our mood.

Clean drinking water is a relatively new phenomenon. As recently as the early 1900’s, 1 in 70 Americans died from a waterborne disease before the age of 70. According to a 2009 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.4 million people worldwide, many of them young children, die each year from water-related diseases, making it the leading cause of death and disease around the world. Tens of millions of others are sickened by water-related illnesses.

Fortunately, we have a large group of dedicated professionals in Utah who oversee the storage, treatment, and distribution of our drinking water, so you can feel confident about the water you use every day.


Click for larger view.

DEQ’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) created the #TrustYourTap initiative to introduce you to the people, processes, and laws that make it possible for you to #TrustYourTap. We’ll talk about how water systems treat drinking water, the laws in place to protect drinking-water sources and the treated water delivered to your home, and how DDW works with municipalities, drinking-water providers, water conservancy districts, and water operators to ensure there’s always clean drinking water available when you reach for your faucet. Topics will include:

  • The people who work behind the scenes to provide you with safe drinking water
  • The vast infrastructure that delivers your water, along with the costs associated with the construction and maintenance of that infrastructure
  • The monitoring required for raw (untreated) and finished (treated) water
  • Threats to source waters
  • The rapid response required when natural disasters or infrastructure failures cut off or contaminate a water supply
  • The value of water to economic development and our quality of life

Water Testing and #TrustYourTap

One of the most important ways to ensure that the water you drink is safe is through testing…lots of testing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants that may have an adverse effect on human health. Drinking-water systems are required to treat their water to meet these maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), which are the maximum levels allowed for water delivered to any user of a public water system.

The EPA requires all community water systems to deliver Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) to their users by July 1st of each year. You probably received the report in your water bill this month. The CCR includes:

  • Your water source(s), such as a lake or river
  • EPA standards for safe contaminant levels
  • Levels of contaminants in your water and any violations of health-based standards (All drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of various impurities such as minerals and other constituents. The presence of impurities does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk).
  • Health effects of contaminants when violations occur
  • Likely sources of detected contaminants
  • Findings of source-water assessments

This annual report provides the results of the thousands of monitoring tests conducted by drinking-water systems every year to ensure that the water they deliver to you meets, or beats, state and federal drinking-water standards.

So the next time you turn on your faucet, consider all the ways clean drinking water contributes to your health, your mood, and your quality of life. All because you can #TrustYourTap.

Check your water bill this month for the yearly Consumer Confidence Report from your water system. You can also find your report on DDW’s WaterLink database. Go to waterlink.utah.gov and select the Public Portal in the upper right corner, select “Consumer Confidence Report” and search for your CCR by county/water system and year. WaterLink will generate a complete data report for you on your selected water system. For more information about the many ways we make sure you can #TrustYourTap, visit our Division of Drinking Water home page.


I became the Director of Drinking Water in January 2017. I attended Utah State University, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. During that time, I worked at the Water Research Laboratory in Logan, which led to an internship with the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy, which led to an offer to work fulltime for Metro as a Process Engineer. From there, I moved to Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District as their Water Quality Division Manager. It was at Jordan Valley that realized how much I love working with people and mentoring new professionals. Along the way, I found a wonderful husband who is willing to put up with my quirkiness, and we have four amazing kids. They are what I am really proud of in my life, and they keep me grounded and humble. They are also my adventure buddies. I love everything about water and love interacting with the people who share this passion.