Utah Lake, a large freshwater lake that sits within just a few miles of every Utah County resident, is used for fishing, boating and other recreational activities. But, many people in Utah County rarely visit. According to Sam Braegger, Outreach Coordinator for Utah Lake Commission, this could be because there are many myths about the lake that simply are not true.
Myth: Utah Lake is dirty and, well … disgustingMany people think this is true because of the physical appearance of the water, according to Braegger.
“The water at Utah Lake is murky, turbid and a slight shade of green,” he said. “When it appears dirty, usually after a wind storm, it is simply the soft soils or sediments from the bottom of the lake that have been re-suspended into the water column.”
The lake is actually shallow. According to utahlakecommision.org, the average depth is about 9 feet when the lake is full. Because of this, it doesn’t take much of a wind event to cause sediments to kick up. According to Braegger, the water at Utah Lake has been certified safe for recreation since the 1970s. This includes swimming, boating, fishing and other types of recreation. The Utah Division of Water Quality monitors water quality across the state, including Utah Lake.
Myth: Utah Lake is toxic and always has algaeAlgae blooms are not unique to Utah Lake. According to Braegger, 29 water bodies across the state had harmful algae blooms last year, including Deer Creek Reservoir, Jordanelle Reservoir, Strawberry Reservoir, Matt Warner Reservoir and others. Harmful algae blooms are caused by a sudden growth of cyanobacteria. These blooms have the potential to release toxins that can be harmful at high concentrations. However, in most cases, as fast as the blooms occur, they often dissipate just as quickly.
Braegger said that to avoid the health risks found during these occasional harmful algae blooms, lake users should make an effort to “know before they go.” Information can be found on the Utah Department of Health website, health.utah.gov. Work is being done to study blooms and to understand how they can be mitigated, according to Braegger. This summer, two marinas on Utah Lake – Lindon Marina and Lincoln Beach — are undergoing algae bloom treatments. Both marinas are expected to be completely clear of algae all summer.
Myth: Geneva Steel ruined Utah LakeWhile it is true that Geneva Steel had some negative impacts on the water quality of Utah Lake while it was in operation, those effects have long been remedied, according to Braegger. In the 1990s, Geneva Steel invested millions of dollars to revitalize the area around the lake and improve its water quality. “Today, water quality is monitored to prevent such a scenario from occurring again,” Braegger said. “The water at Utah Lake is safe for recreational use and aquatic…