Cyanobacteria: Water crisis grips hundreds of thousands in Toledo area, state of emergency declared

I finally found the comprehensive, descriptive, 8-phase water treatment process in Toledo and I’m shocked it was not able to deal adequately with Cyanobacteria’s Cyanotoxins. Truly shocked assuming the information in the article is correct. Everyone writing information about a story can make mistakes but I’m going to assume it was triple checked and is accurate (no offense meant for the article’s author). Click here or on the pdf file to read the entire article which is interesting to read or read an excerpt below.

…Toledo might have possibly had a series of false positives because of the federal EPA’s failure to settle on standard testing protocol.

Water plant operators from Monroe to Sandusky have been urging the federal regulatory agency to develop a testing standard, asserting they are the public’s last line of defense but are left without knowing the best way to test for microcystin.

“They have just been sort of waffling on it,” Mr. Martin said about the U.S. EPA.

The federal agency has said it is still months away from finalizing such a standard.

Toledo has an eight-phase treatment process.

People buy water in the Dixie Highway Kroger in Frenchtown Township in Monroe County.

The chemical permanganate is applied in the water-intake crib 3 miles north of the shoreline, starting the treatment process before the water even gets to the plant, which can take six to 12 hours. The length of time aids in reducing contaminants, officials said.

Along the way, the raw lake water is treated with powdered activated carbon, mostly for taste and odor; alum, to bind particles together and make them easier to remove; lime, to reduce hardness; soda ash, to neutralize excess alum; polyphosphate for stability; chlorine, for disinfection, and fluoride, to combat tooth decay.

The decision on when Toledo’s water is going to be safe enough to drink again is “basically going to be the Ohio EPA’s call,” a weary Jeff Calmes, the plant’s administrator of operations, said after being up more than 38 consecutive hours.

Depending on the results, the same treatment process could be used.

The Ohio EPA is awaiting results of samples sent off to a U.S. EPA laboratory in Cincinnati, a state EPA lab in Columbus, and a lab at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., before making that call.

“At this point, we’re waiting on test results,” Andy McClure, plant superintendent, said.

Data from tests performed by Toledo and Oregon are “very confusing for everyone,” Mr. Collins said.

“We really don’t have a true answer. One set of tests is different from the other,” he said. “… We don’t know for sure [whether] these [city] tests are proof positive, but certainly we’re not taking any risks.”

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins speaks with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur outside the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency building. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins speaks with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur outside the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency building.

Mr. Collins said he will not tell Toledo residents to resume drinking water from their taps until he is convinced it is safe enough for children.

Water was expected to be available again today at several locations, including Woodmore, Waite, Central Catholic, and Springfield high schools, as well as at least two fire stations in Oregon.

At the Collins Park water-treatment plant, Mr. Calmes was one of many employees distressed by the ordeal.

Many were going on little or no sleep.

“We’ve got a very dedicated work force,” Mr. Calmes said. “It’s an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ mentality here today.”

Records show the first sign of microcystin inside the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant appeared on July 6, when a reading barely high enough to be detected by the plant’s technology was recorded.

That, in itself, is not unusual. The toxin has been found at low levels before inside the plant since 1995, when microcystis reappeared in western Lake Erie after a 20-year absence.

The toxin appeared again inside the water plant between July 15 and 18.

But until Saturday, it never was known to slip through the plant’s multi-staged treatment process.

That triggered the region’s largest known water crisis, which prompted many residents to begin scrambling for bottled water hours before dawn.

Joe Andrews, Ohio Department of Public Safety spokesman, said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections had converted its milk-bottling plant near Columbus to package drinking water in large bladders.

Dr. David Grossman, director of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, said a safe level of microcystin is 0, but an allowable level is below 1 parts per million.

At the Collins Park plant, water was testing as high as 2.5 parts per million, he said.

Toledo-area hospitals reported more than 100 people sought treatment in emergency rooms by late afternoon, concerned that they were ill from ingesting contaminated water. Some displayed symptoms such as upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting.

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