By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online
It has now been over two years since the city of Toledo, OH, had to ban water for 400,000 people due to contamination from toxic algae. But concerns still persist.
Though the city’s “water quality dashboard” indicated a “clear” status late last month, some residents expressed concern. So much so, that the mayor felt the need to boost confidence.
“Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson stood with officials at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant to quell rumors the water is not safe to drink,” per WTOL.com. “She promised the city would quickly tell citizens if the dashboard changed.”
Unfortunately, the visible presence of some algae and painful memories of the catastrophe in 2016 make it hard for citizens to take the mayor at her word.
“Despite this, rumors that the water is not safe continue to persist in the Glass City,” the WTOL report continued. “Those rumors, coupled with the disgusting images of green algae in the Maumee River, is sparking outrage among leaders on all levels of the government.”
A councilwoman and a man running for city council both criticized the presence of algae in source water. Former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton visited Toledo and focused on the threat that pollution in Lake Erie posed for northwest Ohio.
Still, there is no evidence that points to dangerous toxic algae contamination despite the visible size of the bloom.
“According to area water-treatment plant operators, the toxin concentration remains surprisingly low — especially now that there is every indication to believe The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accurately predicted this year’s bloom will go down as the third or fourth largest since 2002,” the Toledo Blade reported. “Scientists have long said the size of a bloom does not correlate to its toxicity.”
But with memories over previous issues still lingering and the public on high alert, treatment operations plan to remain diligent.
“Water-treatment plant operators will continue to be on the lookout until the threat has subsided, despite the so far surprisingly low toxin concentration,” the Blade reported.
To read more about preventing toxic algae visit Water Online’s Nutrient Removal Solutions Center.
Top Image credit: "Toledo," Kevin Martini, 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/