Depending on where you live you may or may not be consciously aware of the water supply that provides access to water in your community, in whatever capacity that might be. Many of us are fortunate enough that gaining access to clean, potable water is as simple as going into the next room and twisting the handle on the tap- fresh water gushes out and sometimes we never give it a second. There are many areas, however, where the supply of water is not quite so plentiful, and it might surprise you to find that many of the affected jurisdictions might be closer than you think.
Earlier this week, Toledo, Ohio is one such place. An algae bloom in the water supply has caused highly harmful levels of toxins to be released into the water supply which services some four hundred thousand people, all who have been left without potable water. Local authorities, after conducting tests on the local water to determine the level of toxicity caused by the algae, growing in Maumee Bay, released information urging residents not to drink, or otherwise consume, the water, adding a special emphasis that the water should also not be boiled; boiling the water would not remove the toxins, but instead increase their concentration, making the water even more dangerous. Side effects of consuming the contaminated water could include “abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea numbness or dizziness.”
With no alternative water source announced, residents swarmed local shops seeking bottled water; it is reported that very little to no bottled water remained in several shops, residents of the city having rushed to secure what water they were able to obtain to help they and their families to make it through this disaster limiting their access to potable water. However, by Sunday the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, had declared a state of emergency- many stations to distribute water were dispatched to various terminals around the city, such as schools. It appears that all efforts are being made to make sure that the residents of Toledo do not go without water until the bloom is over and their access to toxin free water is restored.
Such blooms have become an annual phenomenon, fueled apparently by run off from fertilizer and other chemicals coming from the industrial area surrounding the lake. The Associated Press reports that Toledo has spent some four million dollars combating the toxins from the algae bloom. Further plans to combat future outbreaks are unclear at this time.