Green Slime Leaves 500,000 Without Drinking Water

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algae resulting from phosphorus contamination

“More than 500,000 northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan residents remained without drinkable water Saturday evening as officials awaited test results from three different toxicity screenings. The water contamination was the result of algae blooms in Lake Erie, the area’s water source,” according to Post Gazette.

The green slime or algal bloom was expected in the Fall but came early, leaving people without water for as far as fifty miles.

Algal bloom occurs naturally in nature but is happening more often and more widely in the region because of phosphorus contamination.

The government has identified primary causes as nutrients in the water such as phosphorous due to poor farming practices like too many fertilizers and livestock near water sources. They also have said that it is caused by effluent and run-off from towns and cities near waterways. They used to say it was caused by global warming.

Expect more regulations on farming with the concurrent increase in food prices. It will also give the EPA a talking point as they force a new rule on the country which seizes control of all waterways, even to the smallest bodies of water such as ditches. One can sense the expensive Big Government programs on the way. Never let a good crisis go to waste and with this government the cure is guaranteed to be worse than the original problem.

The problem in the region, however, is real, recurrent, and it is significant. We don’t want to minimize it.

Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety, told Al Jazeera that “Federal law requires officials to identify potential sources of contamination around sources used for drinking water.”

“This is a national issue, and represents somewhat of an unfunded mandate from Congress. A lot of cities never followed through with the appropriate measures,” Nye said.

The city of Toledo and Lucas County told residents via their Facebook page not to drink tap water or boil it for drinking. Governor Kasich has declared a state of emergency in the two counties and in Fulton County.

Some blue-green algae are non-toxic and tests are being conducted. At Collins Park plant, water tested as high as 2.5 parts per million. As long as it is below 20 parts per million, it is safe for showering and bathing. Well water is safe.

Algal blooms around Western Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, have contaminated Toledo’s water supply. The affected water plant supplies 500,000 people.

Environmental conditions contribute.

“The NOAA algal bloom forecast for Lake Erie announced July 10 was for a “significant” but not “severe” bloom, the designation for the record HAB in 2011 that was rated 10 on a scale of 10. This year’s bloom was forecast as a 5 or 6, below last year’s rating of an 8,” according to Cleveland.com.

Cleveland.com reports:

“We could find this year’s forecast was underestimated, as it was in 2013,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant. “For right now, however, the forecast is right on the mark. The bloom coming out of the Maumee River this week isn’t exceptionally widespread. It doesn’t extend as far east as the Davis Besse Nuclear Power Plant.”

What appears to have happened, said Reutter, is that a combination of wind, waves and current have pinned a small but intense bloom of blue-green algae against the Ohio shoreline where the Toledo Water Intake is located. The algae contains toxic microcystin, which the City of Toledo has been unable to remove from its drinking water.

Consumption of foul water could lead to nausea and diarrhea.

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