Aug 17, 2020

Utah County Health Department Issues Temporary Water Quality Advisory

The Utah County Health Department issued a temporary water quality advisory for Highland Glen Park after experts discovered unsafe levels of E. coli 

utah water quality

The Utah County Health Department issued a temporary water quality advisory for Highland Glen Park after water quality experts found levels of E. coli above the safe recreation threshold in water samples of the Highland Glen Park pond. 

On Aug. 7, Highland, Utah city officials announced that Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) specialists found levels of E. coli in water samples of the pond, warning swimmers and others recreating to take precautions when visiting the park, reported the Daily Herald.

“Do NOT ingest the water,” said city officials in the advisory. “Do NOT go swimming or wading in the pond. Wash your hands after handling water or fish.”

A team of state water quality specialists took samples on Aug. 5 at the Highland Glen Park pond and found E. coli levels at 550 most probable number (MPN) of bacterial density per 100 milliliters (mL), reported the Daily Herald. This is above the state water quality criteria of 409 MPN per 100 mL, according to Kate Fickas, aquatic biologist and coordinator of the DWQ’s recreational health advisory program.

Aug. 6 samples found the bacterial density had more than doubled to 1,300 MPN per 100 mL, reported Fickas. 

“The type of E. coli that we look for in water bodies is actually not what we’re specifically concerned about,” said Fickas. “It’s called an indicator bacteria, meaning if we find it in a water body, it means there is likely fecal contamination, because this type of E. coli lives in human intestinal tracts.”

According to the DWQ, it is best to avoid contact with any water bodies where an advisory has been issued and to assume all surface waters contain some E. coli whether or not it has been monitored or an advisory has been issued. 

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