The summer sunshine and warmer temperatures have caused more than seasonal flowers to grow this year.
Due to an influx of harmful algal blooms, which can cause toxicity in drinking water sources, at least one Ohio city, Toledo, has been forced to issue temporary no drinking advisories.
However, the water pulled in from Lake Erie by Toledo’s system is different than that of Summit and Portage Counties and officials are assuring residents local water is safe to drink.
Some cities, like Hudson, have their own water treatment facilities and share portions of the water distribution with both Cleveland and Akron.
Most of Hudson is supplied by underground well heads and would not be affected by algae, which only grows in surface water, according to Hudson Communications Manager Jody Roberts.
Akron, which receives its water from Lake Rockwell, LaDue and East Branch reservoirs, also serves Stow, Tallmadge and several townships which border Akron, according to Jeff Bronowski, Akron’s water supply bureau manager. Lake Rockwell is the primary source of Akron’s water, Bronowski said. LaDue and East Branch act as supplemental reservoirs, feeding into Rockwell.
And while Akron water sources are above ground and potentially susceptible to harmful algal blooms, officials are taking precautions to make sure drinking water is safe for customers.
“Lake Rockwell as well as East Branch, LaDue and most waterways in Ohio are susceptible to algal blooms,” Bronowski said.
The city is aware and has been working to manage the blooms for several years.
“Most recently with the fact that there is a much greater focus on algal toxins and the risk of algal toxins, Akron has implemented a number of measures to minimize the risk of an algal toxin situation in the Akron Water distribution system.” Bronowski said.
Some of the measures include real-time monitors which keeps constant track of water quality coming out of East Branch and LaDue as well, analyzing water coming into the treatment process, Bronowski added.
“We also have one of the most extensive watershed management programs that exist anywhere in the country,” Bronowski said. “And have programs approved by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in which we manage the water shed and protect for water quality.”
The goal is to try and address pollution and risk at the source, instead of relying on the treatment source to remove it, he added. Algae samples are also taken on a daily basis to test and speciate the types that may be susceptible to releasing algal toxins.
To cut down on the potential of harmful toxins forming, Akron minimizes the amount of water retention time by opening dam release points.
“We’ve never had an event where there has been a ‘do not drink’ advisory associated with algal toxins,” Bronowski said. “We have staff dedicated to the drinking water quality of the Akron distribution system 24/7. We have the most advanced monitoring and analyzing information available to us at this time to ensure that all EPA regulations are met in association with the drinking water.”
Cleveland water safe too
Cleveland water is also safe, according to officials.
Cleveland Water services most of Northern Summit County which includes parts of Hudson, Sagamore Hills, Center Township, Village of Northfield, Macedonia, Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township, Reminderville and Boston Heights. Cleveland Water also services Aurora, according to Alex Margevicius, interim commissioner of the Cleveland Division of Water.
No toxins have been detected in Cleveland Water.
Cleveland Water has a variety of measures in place to assure algal blooms do not contaminate the drinking water, including following potential harmful growth areas.
“The National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration takes satellite imagery several times a day to take a look at what’s going on with algae growth in the lake,” according to Margevicius. “We monitor that closely. They also do a weekly algal grow forecast of where algae is likely to grow in the coming week.”
Aircraft from the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland have recently begun monitoring potential algae growth on overcast days when satellite imagery cannot be used, Margevicius said. The aircraft imagery is at a higher resolution, which makes it clearer to read.
The Central Basin of Lake Erie supplies the Cleveland Water system and is generally deeper which keeps the water cooler than the Western Basin, which supplies Toledo water.
Cleveland Water has four water treatment plants with four separate intakes, 15 miles apart at different elevations of the lake.
“What we’ve seen in the past is that algae tends to be localized,” Margevicius said. “It could be here today and gone tomorrow.”
If algae is spotted, Cleveland Water can minimize water intake from that area plant.
“We are constantly on guard and hopefully nothing happens here,” Margevicius said. “But, if so, we are going to do everything we can to make sure there is no issues with our water, and everyone has safe, good clean water to drink.”