For water utilities in northwestern Ohio, southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario, managing CHABs comes down to enhancing their testing and treatment systems. “Since it will take a very long time to eliminate these blooms, figuring out the best ways to test for and treat the toxins they produce is a logical approach that every utility using Lake Erie water is working on,” said Marcia Galloway, E & E’s chief chemist.
The U.S. federal EPA is helping with a project begun in 2013 to sample water at various stages of drinking water treatment in seven facilities to better “characterize the development of … CyanoHABs and their associated toxins,” according to the agency’s website. “Because different classes of toxins, and even variants within the classes, exhibit differing degrees of treatability, tracking their possible spread or removal through a treatment facility [will help] utilities and regulators to make better-informed long-term decisions regarding the operation and modification of treatment processes.”
The state of Ohio is making small grants to water utilities to fund lab equipment, supplies and training that will allow them to analyze water samples for CHAB toxins onsite rather than by sending samples to outside labs. “Given the dynamic and unpredictable nature of cyanobacteria blooms, having this flexibility is critical,” states the Ohio EPA. The agency is also providing up to $50 million in zero-interest loans for enhanced water treatment infrastructure components and back-up water sources.
Interested in learning more?
Marcia Galloway – Chief Ecologist
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Living with Toxic Algal Blooms: Lake Erie