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US agency studies how to detect algae bloom outbreaks

August 13, 2016 GMT
FILE - This July 20, 2016, file photo, Jason Garrett, water quality bureau director at the Utah County Health Department, looks at the water in Utah Lake Wednesday, July 20, 2016, near American Fork, Utah. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will study how nutrient levels contribute to algae bloom outbreaks on the heels of this summer's massive algae bloom that closed Utah Lake, sickened people and left farmers scrambling for clean water during some of the hottest days of the year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
FILE - This July 20, 2016, file photo, Jason Garrett, water quality bureau director at the Utah County Health Department, looks at the water in Utah Lake Wednesday, July 20, 2016, near American Fork, Utah. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will study how nutrient levels contribute to algae bloom outbreaks on the heels of this summer's massive algae bloom that closed Utah Lake, sickened people and left farmers scrambling for clean water during some of the hottest days of the year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Scientists spent this week studying how nutrient levels contribute to algae blooms on the heels of this summer’s massive outbreak that closed Utah Lake, sickened people and left farmers scrambling for clean water during some of the hottest days of the year.

The goal of the study on the waters of Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake is to determine how to predict outbreaks before they happen, said Christopher Shope, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Utah.

That would allow state and county officials to be able to warn boaters, swimmers and farmers ahead of time, he said. The federal agency conducted the study.

Toxic algae is a problem around the U.S. An enormous outbreak in Florida this year fouled beaches on the Atlantic coast, and a 2014 outbreak at Lake Erie left more than 400,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio, area without tap water for two days.

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