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Toxic blue-green algae closes Matt Warner Reservoir

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has closed Matt Warner Reservoir in Uintah County to fishing due to a toxic blue-green algae bloom. Effective Sept. 16, angling for and the harvest of any species of fish or crayfish is prohibited until further notice.

Last week, the DWR posted signs at the reservoir following a health advisory issued by the Tri-County Health Department in the Uintah Basin. The advisory cautioned livestock owners to restrict their livestock and other animals from drinking water from the reservoir and advised people not to drink or swim in the reservoir.

Recent cattle deaths associated with a blue-green algae bloom (Microcystis aeruginosa) in the reservoir water prompted this health advisory.

As stated in the health advisory, reports indicate that some strains of Microcystis sp. produce toxins that might cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal discomfort in humans who come in contact with these particular algae blooms. Even though ill effects to humans from the consumption of fish from waters with blue-green algae blooms is not well documented in scientific literature, the DWR felt it was prudent to restrict water-based recreation (i.e., fishing and fish harvest).

Blue-green algae blooms are common throughout the country in waters with high levels of nutrients � primarily phosphates and nitrates. These blooms usually occur during the hot summer months, but dissipate during cooler fall weather. Drought conditions may intensify these blooms.

The DWR said it anticipates that it will rescind this emergency fishing closure later this fall, and will notify the public accordingly.

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