AWWA Releases Cyanotoxin Guide for Water Utility Managers

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The American Water Works Association and the Water Research Foundation have released a guide to help water utility managers detect and control cyanotoxins, the algae-related contaminants responsible for a “do not drink” advisory in Toledo, Ohio, last summer.

A Water Utility Manager’s Guide to Cyanotoxins addresses cyanotoxin occurrence, source water management and treatment strategies. Presented in a simple Q&A format, it is available for free download from both the AWWA and WRF websites. A more technical companion document is also in development.

Cyanotoxins typically arise from cyanobacteria — often referred to as blue-green algae in lakes and reservoirs — and can affect drinking water quality. Although the health effects from drinking water contaminated by cyanotoxins are not well understood, potential negative effects of prolonged or very high exposures include liver, nervous system and gastrointestinal problems.

The guide comes as the federal government considers how to address cyanotoxins from both regulatory and legislative perspectives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish a health advisory on cyanotoxins during spring or summer 2015 to assist regulators and water managers as they consider steps to protect the public from unregulated contaminants. U.S. Congress is considering multiple bills related to cyanotoxin monitoring and risk assessment.

“The Toledo incident launched cyanotoxins into the public consciousness,” says AWWA President John Donahue. “This guide will help water managers make informed decisions in how they manage cyanotoxin concerns and communicate effectively with their customers.”

“As we look toward the warm days of summer, this new guide presents water utility managers with the right information at the right time to help them confidently apply the best science and best practices to protect the communities they serve,” says Robert Renner, WRF’s executive director.

About AWWA
Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.

About Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation is an internationally recognized leader in sponsoring research that supports the water community in holistically and cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental and economic needs. WRF’s research provides reliable and relevant solutions to the most critical challenges facing the water community today and into the future. Founded in 1966, WRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to


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