Harmful Algal Blooms
- Erik Rosenfeldt - Hazen and Sawyer
In August 2014, the City of Toledo reported elevated microcystin results in their finished water. Even though microcystin is not regulated anywhere in the United States, residents were warned to not drink the water or use it to cook or brush their teeth for two days. The water emergency in Ohio’s fourth-largest city put a spotlight on harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie and throughout the country.
While this event put the issue of algal toxins front and center in the public view, it is not the first incident of its kind in the United States. Water utilities who have not traditionally experienced algae-related issues in northern climates are now experiencing HABs, and even utilities well-versed in algae issues are experiencing new seasonal and magnitude event patterns. The seemingly ubiquitous and expanding nature of HABs, coupled with the Toledo event which received national media attention, is making algal mitigation critical for many water utilities. In order to effectively deal with HABs and resulting potential algal toxins and T&O issues, it is important to understand the underlying risks, root causes of HABs, and also what can be done by water utilities to address HABs, algal toxins, and algae-related taste and odor.
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