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Ohio EPA letter unrelated to water crisis, Toledo officials say

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Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, left, and Ed Moore Toledo director of public utilities, talk during a news conference today at One Government Center. Behind them are Bob Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, and Andy McClure superintendent of the Collins Park water treatment plant.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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City of Toledo leaders came to their own defense today, saying that issues raised recently by the Ohio EPA about the city‘‍s water treatment plant were unrelated to last weekend‘‍s water crisis.

“The algal bloom caused the issue,” Ed Moore, public utilities director for the city said. “The plant did not cause the issue.”

Less than two months ago, the Ohio EPA warned Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins that the city’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant was “vulnerable to potential failures that could severely impact the city’s ability to provide adequate quantities of safe water to its citizens.”

RELATED: Ohio EPA warned Toledo of its water system in June letter

Problems identified by the EPA were related to repairs that are part of the $521 million Toledo Waterways Initiative construction program to improve the city’‍s sewage system. The city agrees that plant repairs are needed, and is accelerating a 20-year plan to remodel the plant to five years.

City officials did admit to a flawed communication strategy during the crisis, and said that they are learning from their mistakes and developing a new emergency response plan. They also spoke about improvements made to testing procedures.

Dr. David Grossman, Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, said that the Ohio EPA advised the city to do a new type of test for microcystin, the toxin in microcystis algae that caused last weekend’s unprecedented advisory. Officials learned during the weekend that chlorine present in test samples was artificially lowering detected levels of microcystin, creating paradoxical test results.

New testing standards were agreed upon by local, state, and federal officials over the weekend.

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