Volunteers unload drinking water from a truck outside Waite
High School in Toledo, Ohio. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
Testing of water for toxins is continuing in Toledo,
Ohio, as some 400,000 people remain without safe drinking water
for a second day following the discovery of high toxin levels
from algae on Lake Erie.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said some sampling showed
decreased toxin levels but that results from further tests
would not be known until later in the day.
"All I can tell you is that everything is trending in a very
postive direction," Collins told reporters. But he also
cautioned "this is not over yet" and he could not predict
when water would be safe to drink.
About 500,000 people get water from the contaminated source
but about 100,000 residents of some commmunities have backup
water supply systems, said city of Toledo spokeswoman Lisa
Health officials sent samples to several laboratories for
testing after finding Lake Erie may have been affected by a
"harmful algal bloom," Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said.
The lake provides the bulk of the area's drinking water.
Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency on
Saturday for the state's fourth-largest city and surrounding
counties. The Ohio National Guard, various state agencies and
the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio were working to
truck safe water to the area.
Many residents drove to other states in search of fresh water
as news of the crisis led stores to rapidly sell out of
bottled water supplies.
Jeff Hauter of Toledo drove to a Walmart in suburban Detroit,
where he bought 18 gallons and four cases of water. He said
he ran into others from the Toledo area loading up their
trucks and cars.
Algal blooms in Lake Erie are fairly common, typically in the
summer, state emergency operations spokesman Chris Abbruzzese
Potentially dangerous algal blooms, which are rapid increases
in algae levels, are caused by high amounts of nitrogen and
Those nutrients can come from runoff of excessively
fertilized fields and lawns or from malfunctioning septic
systems or livestock pens, city officials said.
Drinking the contaminated water can affect the liver and
cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness, city
officials said, adding that boiling will not destroy the
The water should not be used for drinking, making infant
formula or ice, brushing teeth or preparing food, the
governor's office said. It also should not be given to pets,
but hand washing is safe and adults can shower in it,
In response to the Toledo crisis, Chicago began additional
testing on Lake Michigan water as a precaution and expects
results within a day or two, city spokeswoman Shannon