Now is not the time to flood the grocery store in desperate search of bottled water.
Despite rumored reports, and an unsettling green hue of the Maumee River caused by a recent algae bloom, the drinking water in the city of Toledo is safe to drink, and has been since 2014.
Professor of Environmental Sciences, Tom Bridgeman, reassured citizens at a recent press conference with Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
“The Maumee River is over ten miles away from where we get our drinking water,” Bridgeman said. “Our water intake is in Lake Erie. Right now, the water quality at the intake is very good.”
According to the Ohio Sea Grant research institute, a harmful algal bloom, often called a HAB, is any large increased density of algae that is capable of producing toxins.
A report form WTOL states, “Runoff from area farms and lawns as well as wastewater treatment plants feeds the algae bloom. Many of those chemicals come into the lake through the Maumee River.”
Although the water was never reported unsafe to drink, some Toledoans felt compelled to stock up on bottled water.
Keith Meyer, a member of the community, tweeted out a picture on Sept. 27 of an almost empty grocery store shelf that was once filled with bottled water.
Joseph's Beverage Center, a local business, played into the sensationalism by displaying a sign that read, “Worried about algae? We’ve got water.”
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson is adamant about clearing up the confusion.
“We have been very vigilant in making sure that the water at the tap is safe,” Hicks-Hudson said.
In an interview with NPR, Timothy Davis, associate professor of biology at Bowling Green State University, explained the lowered severity of the bloom and elaborated on the preparedness of water treatment facilities.
“This is a bad year, but it’s not a record setting year.” Davis said. “Anytime there’s a bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie, there is always a risk to drinking water. Water treatment plants are well-equipped to deal with these blooms.”
Andrew McClure heads the Collins Water Park Treatment Plant that monitors Toledo’s drinking water. McClure expanded upon the plant’s reliable procedures.
“We perform more than 650 water quality tests a day to confirm that Toledo tap water meets or exceeds all water quality standards set by the Ohio EPA, in compliance with the US EPA,” McClure wrote. “Our water treatment professionals and chemists are on duty 24 hours a day, every day, to ensure that our tap water is safe to drink.”
Hicks-Hudson called on the entire city to do their part in maintaining safe water.
“We all have a responsibility to conservation, to take steps, to not do any more harm to the river and thus to lake,” Hicks-Hudson said. ”We cannot, and should not, just say it’s your fault. It’s all of our fault. We all have a stake in it.”
Citizens can find updates on water quality on The City of Toledo Water Quality Dashboard at toledo.oh.gov.