Toledo Lifts Drinking Water Ban After Mycrocystin Scare

After a two-day drinking water ban in Toledo, Ohio, officials declare the water safe and state precautions are being taken to protect the city's residents.
Toledo Lifts Drinking Water Ban After Mycrocystin Scare
Toledo city officials enforced a drinking water ban on Saturday, Aug. 2, when the Collins Water Treatment Plant showed two sample readings for microsystin above the standard for consumption.

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Officials lifted a ban on Toledo, Ohio, drinking water Monday morning after test results consistently showed “nondetectable” levels of mycrocystin, a neurotoxin produced by a bloom of blue-green algae. The city receives its water from Lake Erie, which continuously fights blooms of cyanobacteria. Earlier this summer, the NOAA had predicted an above-average year for the algae blooms. (See “NOAA Releases Lake Erie Algae Bloom Forecast”).

City officials enforced the ban on Saturday, Aug. 2, when the Collins Water Treatment Plant showed two sample readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption. Soon afterward, the governor declared a state of emergency, advising the city’s 400,000 residents to avoid drinking the water. The city quickly descended into chaos as residents rushed to purchase bottled water.

“It looked like Black Friday,” says resident Aundrea Simmons in an AP story. “ I have children and elderly parents. They take their medication with water.”

Truckloads of water were shipped across the state as Toledo officials set up distribution centers at schools around the city. The Red Cross also worked to distribute water to homebound residents.

According to the AP article, state EPA Director Craig Butler said tests on Friday night indicated trouble with the water, and additional testing confirmed the elevated readings. He indicated that water coming from the lakes has had low levels of toxicity this summer until the sudden spike.

Although the ban has been lifted, the City of Toledo is advising residents to conserve water until the treatment plant can return to full operation.

According to a press release on the City’s Facebook page, “Steps are being taken state-wide to adopt a regulated testing system for microcystin. We will continue to test and treat our water to ensure it is a safe and pure resource for our water consumers.”

The algae blooms are driven by high nutrients, warm temperatures and other factors. Communities and cities around the Lake Erie region are actively working to control stormwater, agricultural runoff and more in an attempt to limit phosphorus levels in the lake. For more information on green infrastructure efforts, see “Will Municipal Green Infrastructure Save Lake Erie?


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