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Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Toledo’s mayor asked Tuesday for a voluntarily reduction in water usage until the algae season is over in September, saying it would give chemicals the city adds to the lake water more time to combat the toxins.

“Let’s be realistic; we know it’s going to intensify,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The threat of toxins contaminating water supplies along western Lake Erie is far from over even after Ohio’s fourth-largest city declared its water safe again.

That’s because the algae leaving behind the dangerous toxins each summer aren’t supposed to peak until September.

The chances of another water emergency over the next few months will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that dictate how large the algae grow and where algae blooms end up.

“To some degree, there are only certain things we can control,” said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency. “What is possible is making sure systems taking water from Lake Erie are being very vigilant with the treatment process.”

What role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for 400,000 people in and around Toledo is being investigated, as is the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates. But researchers believe winds pushed the algae right to where Toledo collects its water from the lake.

“When they bloom and it’s right over our intake, we’re at its mercy,” said Ed Moore, Toledo’s public utilities director. “This is Mother Nature we’re dealing with. This was out of our control.”

That’s what scares water plant operators.

“There’s a train coming and we’re standing on the track,” said Kelly Frey, sanitary engineer in Ottawa County, just east of Toledo.

Water plants add a chemical called activated carbon to absorb algae before filtering the water. What makes combating the toxin a challenge is that there are no standards on how to handle it or rules on how often to test the water.

Butler, the state’s EPA director, said Tuesday that he thinks the federal government needs to come up with standard guidelines on both what are acceptable limits for the microsystin found in Toledo’s water and how often testing should be done.

Carol Stepien, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, said the risk of a water treatment plant being overwhelmed by toxins will go on until the pollutants feeding the algae are brought under control.

“I’m hoping this acts as a catalyst much like the Cuyahoga River burning,” she said, referring to the 1969 Cleveland fire that helped spur the environmental movement and the federal Clean Water Act.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, supplies drinking water to 11 million people in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York along with Canada. The western end is particularly shallow, making it more vulnerable to the algae, though other areas of the Great Lakes are not immune.

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is a source for drinking water in Wisconsin and has been plagued by various types of nuisance algae. Algae in a reservoir near Columbus left a foul smell and flavor in the city’s water supply last fall.

But right now the greatest concern is in Lake Erie.

In September, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps – believed to be the first time a community has banned residents from using the water because of toxins in the lake.

Carroll Township has since upgraded its water plant to better combat the algae-fueled toxin. But Henry Biggert, the township’s water plant superintendent, said they can only do so much with the water coming out of the lake.

“We can handle it better, absolutely,” Biggert said. “But could we handle it if it got worse? That’s a really good question. That’s where my concern is.”

Ohio water crisis: Threat isn’t going away soon

KDWN

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The worry over another water emergency along Lake Erie is far from over.

That’s because the algae that left behind toxins contaminating the drinking water of 400,000 people in Ohio isn’t supposed to peak until September.

Water plant operators and residents who get their water from the western end of Lake Erie will be holding their breath over the next few months.

The chances of more trouble will depend a lot the winds, rains and temperatures that determine how large the algae grow and where it ends up.

It’s still not clear what role the algae-induced toxin played in fouling the water supply for the city of Toledo beginning Saturday.

Investigators also are looking at the city’s aging water supply system and how it operates.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Ohio’s governor is promising an extensive review of how the water supply for 400,000 people in Ohio and Michigan became tainted with a toxin over the weekend while a high-ranking state lawmaker is planning hearings on the blooms of algae fouling Lake Erie.

The water problems that led to a state emergency in Ohio’s fourth-largest city and forced thousands to avoid drinking tap water for more than two days is certain to come under intense scrutiny in the coming months.

“This is not just one community issue, this is the whole lake,” said state Rep. Dave Hall, who wants to bring in experts to look at the cause of the blooms and how they’re influenced by weather, farm runoff, manure management and wastewater treatment facilities.

Toledo’s mayor lifted the water advisory Monday morning after dozens of tests over the weekend showed an algae-induced toxin contaminating Lake Erie had dropped to safe levels following intensive chemical treatments.

Hall, chairman of the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said he wants a hearing to explore ways to mitigate or treat the algae.

“I don’t think you’re going to change things overnight,” Hall said. “There’s not a silver bullet because I think there have been practices that have been in place for years that’s caused us to get to this point.”

Gov. John Kasich told The Associated Press it’s not clear yet whether the algae bloom centered where Toledo draws its water was entirely to blame for fouling the city’s drinking water or if changes also are needed with the water-supply system.

The state, he said, will conduct a review of what happened, including taking a look at Toledo’s aging water system and continuing to figure out how to reduce pollution that feeds algae in the western end of the lake.

The state’s Environmental Protection Agency, according to Kasich, also will be looking at setting rules on how often the water should be tested – something that isn’t in place now.

The weekend warning had led Kasich to declare a state of emergency in three counties, bringing in soldiers from the Ohio National Guard to deliver bottled water and operate purification systems to produce drinkable water.

Ohio’s Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who was behind a bill that will bring more money for monitoring the algae in the Great Lakes, said more research is needed to understand what’s behind the blooms and how to control them.

After the ban was lifted in Toledo, city officials recommended that residents who had not used their water since Saturday flush out their systems. They asked people not to water lawns or wash cars at the risk of overwhelming the system.

Some weren’t ready to drink the tap water just yet.

“I’m waiting for two or three days,” said Aretha Howard, of Toledo. “I have a pregnant daughter at home. She can’t drink this water.”

Associated Press writer Ann Sanner in Columbus contributed to this report.