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Vernal reservoir closed to due to harmful algal bloom

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Tri-County Health Department issued a danger advisory

Photo: Utah Department of Environmental Quality

VERNAL, Utah (ABC4 News) –  TriCounty Health Department (TCHD) posted danger signs at Matt Warner Reservoir, warning the public not to fish, swim or recreate in the water due to the harmful algal blooms.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and TCHD officials made the decision to close the reservoir to fishing from Aug. 13 to Sept. 30. That means that it will be illegal for anyone to fish at the reservoir during that time and anyone found fishing there could be cited.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reported recent water samples from Matt Warner showed 109 million cells per milliliter of cyanobacteria — over 11 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold for closure. 

“The risk to humans and animals is too great. All contact with the water and any fish in the water should be avoided until the algal bloom subsides and toxicity levels decrease,” said DWR Director Mike Fowlks.

Officials say these algal blooms happen frequently at Matt Warner Reservoir.

“There is nothing we can do to mitigate or prevent the toxins. The best thing we can do is stay out of the water until the bacteria and toxins dissipate on their own,” said Eric Larsen, environmental health scientist.

Hunting and camping in the Diamond Mountain Wildlife Management Area will still be allowed. However, campers and hunters with dogs should avoid the area unless they can ensure that their pets will not get in the water. 

For more information, visit the Utah Department of Environmental Quality website.

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