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foam and car

Mysterious Green Foam Rises From Sewers in Utah

Kind of bubbling a little bit, and then you got closer and you could see it start rising, I don’t want that stuff on me, I don’t know what it is.

Bluffdale, Utah resident Tara Dahl describes a mysterious green foam she saw rising from a sewer in her neighborhood in this Salt Lake City suburb last week. Was it some strange alien creature? An environmental disaster? A desperate Ghostbusters promotion?

Dahl said the foam was high enough and bright enough that it could be seen from a block away. As other frightened residents watched it ooze out of the storm drain, firefighters showed up in wearing masks and gloves and blasted the blob back down into the sewer with water hoses, but not before representatives of the Salt Lake County Health Department had a chance to take samples for analysis. That’s where the non-Ghostbuster plot thickens like day-old slime.

Slime oozing from the drain

Slime oozing from the drain

A recent growth of algae has covered 90 percent of the nearby Utah Lake, a shallow freshwater lake in Utah Valley. Health officials closed the lake out of concern that it’s the cyanobacteria algae which can produce neurotoxins, cytotoxins, endotoxins, hepatotoxins and a host of other toxins (none good) that can cause brain, liver and nervous system problems in people exposed to it and may also cause Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

To make matters worse, the algae’s growth is due to high temperatures, low lake levels and phosphorous from wastewater treatment plants. Donna Spangler, communications director for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, put it bluntly:

It’s coming from our waste, human waste — using the bathroom.

The green algae nearly completely covering Utah Lake

The green algae nearly completely covering Utah Lake

It’s a good thing Utah Lake isn’t connected to the Bluffdale sewers, right? Wrong! The only outlet of the lake feeds into the Jordan River which is connected to the Welby Canal which is connected to the … uh-oh.

After that comment about human waste, Spangler had to assure residents that the green foam was not from Utah Lake algae and blamed it instead an “irrigation cleaning” of the Welby Canal which left a “soapy mess.” Sounds like an enema and you know what kind of waste gets cleaned by an enema.

It doesn't look any better close up

It doesn’t look any better close up

Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake County Health Department defended the “irrigation cleansing” excuse, saying the canal was actually overrun with moss.

The chemicals that they use for the moss prevention process, or moss cleaning process, foams, causes a foaming action.

As of this writing, four days after the green blob was chanced back into the sewer, no cause has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Utah residents can’t get one thing out of their heads:

It’s coming from our waste, human waste — using the bathroom.

 

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