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Published: Tuesday, 7/19/2005

Algae bloom affecting the taste of Toledo-area drinking water

A faint, strange taste in Toledo's drinking water still may be noticeable to some consumers on the west side of the service area, the head of the city's water service acknowledged yesterday.

Bob Stevenson, director of the Department of Public Utilities, said a bloom of harmless algae last week prompted an increase in chemical treatment.

"The people farther west would be the last to feel it," Mr. Stevenson said.

A bloom, or sudden growth, of the microscopic algae melosira was detected in the city's Lake Erie water supply Thursday morning. Chemists at the city's freshwater treatment plant in East Toledo responded with a combination of activated carbon and chlorine dioxide to kill the algae.

"The bloom is still out there, but we're treating for it now," Mr. Stevenson said. The algae is harmless, he said, and is present in concentrations measured in parts per billion or trillion.

"What you're tasting, after we treat the water and remove the problem, is the very small residuals of the algae," Mr. Stevenson said. "Some people can taste it; some people can't."

On Friday, Mr. Stevenson said the taste would be gone by the end of last week. He said algae blooms are a regularly recurring event but are bigger in hotter, sunnier weather.

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