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Published: Wednesday, 8/27/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

LAKE ERIE ALGAE

Water alert is issued to residents of Pelee Island

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

Residents of Canada’s Pelee Island have been warned to drink only bottled water and to stay away from the beaches as toxic Lake Erie algae has reached its shores.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit issued an alert on Tuesday, warning residents that the blue-green algae bloom is affecting the water quality along the island’s shoreline. The microcystin that contaminated Toledo’s water system, rendering the water undrinkable from Aug. 2-4, is affecting private well water systems on Pelee Island, authorities said.

The officials also warned residents not to bathe in or cook with the contaminated water and not to eat fish from the lake. Authorities closed the beaches and advised against swimming.

Toxic algae blooms have developed on Lake Erie since the mid-1990s, and the contaminants overwhelmed Toledo’s water treatment plant on Aug. 2, driving the level of the toxin microcystin above the 1 part per billion level the World Health Organization says is safe.

A do-not-drink advisory was issued for more than 500,000 customers. For more than two days, residents scrambled to find bottled water. People had to avoid tap water to cook, bathe, dishes, or laundry.

In the wake of the water crisis in Toledo:

● Mayor D. Michael Collins has accepted the resignation of the commissioner of the Collins Park Water Treatment plant.

● The state attorney general has begun probes of price gouging against businesses that sold bottled water at high prices.

● Suburbs that buy water from Toledo have investigated joining other water systems ​or creating a regional water authority.

● The Ohio EPA has released documents that show city officials were warned two months before that the lagging repairs to the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant threatened safe operation.

● Mr. Collins’ chief of staff was issued a ticket after a police-cruiser dash-cam video showed he ran a red light using police-style lights on his city vehicle.

● Bills have been introduced in the Ohio General Assembly to address the pollutants that foster algae development. Legislation has been proposed to limit and regulate the spreading of manure and synthetic fertilizer on farm fields.

● Mr. Collins compared the crisis to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — a wake-up call.

In a letter, Mr. Collins urged President Obama, Gov. John Kasich, 18 members of the Great Lakes congressional delegation, and 10 members of the Ohio General Assembly, to do whatever it takes fiscally to get Toledo through the algae season and enact laws so that the area’s 500,000 residents don’t have to hunt for bottled water again.



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