Response Assistance

It is the primary responsibility of the affected Public Water System to prepare and manage potential HAB events. However, there are two principal State agencies; the Division of Drinking Water, the Division of Water Quality, and several subsidiary agencies that can assist in the response to algal blooms and cyanotoxins as described below.

A. Division of Drinking Water (DDW)

Provides technical assistance and advice about sampling, treatment, and public notice by Public Water Systems affected by HABs and cyanotoxins. DDW’s responses to HABs that affect water systems include the following:

  • DDW maintains a list of Public Water Systems that are known to be vulnerable to cyanotoxins (Appendix A)
  • DDW reviews and keeps on file Cyanotoxin Management Plans developed by Public Water Systems vulnerable to cyanotoxins
  • DDW will follow up with a Public Water System when an algal bloom, cyanobacteria, or cyanotoxins have been detected in source water by DWQ
  • If requested, DDW will assist DWQ with source sampling for cyanobacteria cell counts, cyanobacteria identification, and cyanotoxins
  • DDW can make recommendations for analytical sampling methods, including sample collection, sampling frequency, locations, and types of cyanotoxins to analyze for
  • DDW will provide technical assistance to Public Water Systems that detect cyanotoxins in raw or finished water
  • DDW will record cyanotoxin sample results submitted by Public Water Systems to track bloom patterns and predict potential future blooms
  • DDW will assist Public Water Systems to review the adequacy of facilities for treating cyanotoxins
  • DDW reviews plans for providing temporary treatment of cyanotoxins
  • DDW reviews plans for constructing permanent facilities to treat cyanotoxins
  • DDW issues operating permits for new facilities to treat cyanotoxins
  • DDW may assist Public Water Systems with water use advisories if cyanotoxins are detected in finished water

B. Division of Water Quality (DWQ)

Conducts water quality monitoring throughout the State, including phytoplankton testing of a limited number of surface water bodies in Utah. Currently, the testing is done to assess general water quality and focuses on elevated phytoplankton levels affecting recreational use of the water. The Division of Water Quality also responds to HABs that affect water systems. Its responses may include the following:

  1. DWQ may collect samples from drinking water sources for phytoplankton and cyanobacteria cell counts, cyanobacteria identification, and toxin analysis
  2. DWQ may notify affected Public Water Systems and the Division of Drinking Water of source water sample results
  3. DWQ is available to provide sampling, analytical method, and laboratory recommendations to Public Water Systems and the Division of Drinking Water

C. Other Agencies

Employees of the Division of Water Resources and the Division of State Parks are often able to observe algal blooms in State waterways and to provide notification to the Division of Water Quality when blooms are seen.

Local Health Departments may report algal blooms, collect samples, and provide information concerning algal blooms and cyanotoxins to local residents. They can also refer Public Water System-related questions to the Division of Drinking Water.

County Flood Control Authorities- Per Title 17 the State grants flood control authority to the counties so they are working in surface waters year-round and a good resource for early identification of a potential algal bloom.