Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
A shore of Utah Lake is pictured.

SALT LAKE CITY — Rockport, Echo and Deer Creek reservoirs now include warnings for an outbreak of harmful algal blooms, with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality advising the public to exercise caution.

The new outbreaks noted Tuesday add to six other water bodies in the state that are suffering from a proliferation of the blue-green algae.

The harmful algal blooms can contain toxins that can cause serious illness in people and animals.

2 comments on this story

Harmful algal blooms are a byproduct of excess nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water, and one source of those nutrients is wastewater discharge. Nutrient pollution can also be caused by urban runoff and agricultural activities.

The Utah Division of Water Quality developed a technology-based standard for phosphorus that will apply to wastewater treatment plants in 2020. Regulators say the upgrades will cost 34 plants about $114 million across the state, and while the outbreak of algal blooms may be reduced, they won't be eliminated altogether.

Utah Lake has suffered from outbreaks over the past several years, including a 2016 infestation that covered most its surface.