Toledo mayor lifts ban, declares drinking water safe


Toledo’s water intake crib was surrounded by algae on Sunday. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Toledo’s water is safe to drink again, D. Michael Collins announced Monday. To prove he meant it, Collins — the mayor of Ohio’s fourth-largest city — reportedly stood in front of journalists assembled for his press conference and took a drink himself.

“Here’s to you Toledo,” Collins said, according the Toledo Blade, “you did a great job.”

Officials on Monday lifted a ban on the city’s tap water, which was issued Saturday after tests found that toxins — likely caused by algae blooms in Lake Erie — had tainted the city’s supply. The ban sent residents scrambling to stores and distribution centers in Ohio and Michigan, searching for water that hadn’t been contaminated by microcystin, which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

“It looked like Black Friday,” Aundrea Simmons, who was buying cases of water at a local pharmacy, told the Associated Press this weekend. “I have children and elderly parents. They take their medication with water.”

Toledo Mayor Michael Collins announced that the ban on drinking tap water has been lifted. Test results showed that toxins in the city’s drinking water were no longer at dangerous levels. (Reuters)

Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency, and residents were advised against bathing children in the water, using it to make ice or brush their teeth, or giving it to their pets.

The toxic blue-green algae is expected to persist in Lake Erie until the fall, Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio State University’s Sea Grant program and Stone Laboratory, told The Post. A forecast issued in July predicted “significant” bloom, but smaller than what had been seen in recent years.

Officials will likely issue a new forecast later this month, Reutter said.

“The bloom is still within the forecast parameters,” Reutter said. “The bloom in 2011 was much worse, and the bloom last year was a little worse, but the conditions on Friday were such that the wind and the waves — currents — blew this bloom right down into the Toledo area.”

Here’s what Lake Erie looked like in 2011, when it was hit with a record-setting algae bloom:


Satellite image of 2011 bloom, the worst bloom in recent years, which impacted more than half of the lake shore. (Photo courtesy of MERIS/ESA, processed by NOAA/NOS/NCCOS)

“Over the past two days we’ve been reminded of the importance of our crown jewel — Lake Erie — to our everyday lives,” Kasich said in a statement Monday. “We must remain vigilant in our ongoing efforts to protect it.”

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read National
Next Story
Elahe Izadi · August 1