News Briefs: City of Salem Endures Cyanotoxin Crisis

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, firefighters respond to a chlorine leak in Oklahoma City; and a brewery in Sweden is marketing and selling beer made from recycled wastewater

Water tests in Salem, Stayton, Turner and Wilsonville, Oregon, recently showed the water was unsafe for young children and some adults to drink after uncovering elevated levels of microcystin — a cyanotoxin produced by algae blooms.

A public health warning was in effect for the Salem area, and Gov. Kate Brown ordered the Oregon Military Department to provide water to Salem and Marion county residents. As a result of that order, seven water stations opened.

In Wilsonville, testing discovered a microcystin concentration of 0.34 µg/L, which is just above the EPA’s guideline for young children at 0.3 µg/L.

The Oregon Health Authority recommended waiting 10 days before posting health advisories to give officials a chance to remedy the issue, but Salem councilor Tom Andersen said he was more concerned with the public’s right to know. “The main way to cause a panic is to have people not know what’s going on,” he told the Statesman Journal.

While the water advisory in Salem was lifted June 2, regular water testing is continuing to keep track of the problem.


Firefighters and a hazardous materials team recently responded to a chlorine leak at Hefter Water Treatment Plant in Oklahoma City.

The leak was fixed about an hour after it was discovered, but at that point liquid chlorine had made its way into sanitary sewer lines in the region. Officials monitored manholes in the area.

No evacuations were ordered, but officials asked people in the area to call 911 if they smelled chlorine.


A brewery in Sweden is now selling beer made out of recycled wastewater. Nya Carnegiebryggeriet brewery and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute collaborated to launch the beer, called PU:REST last month.

The beer was created to raise awareness about the possibility of using recycled wastewater for potable applications.

“Ultimately, this comes down to beating the drum for sustainable water treatment, and for the value of fresh water,” Staffan Filipsson of IVL said in a press release.


A recent fire at Northfield (Minnesota) Wastewater Treatment Plant may have caused more than $1 million in damage.

Officials from the city of Northfield say equipment that processes waste caught fire and could take months to fix.

While area residents are allowed to flush their toilets, the city is temporarily trucking some of the waste to a neighboring plant.



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