Toledo Residents Rush To Michigan For Water, Ohio Gov. Declares State Of Emergency

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WWJ/AP) - Residents in Toledo are flocking to stores in Michigan in search of water after Ohio officials issued a “do not drink” warning and declared a state of emergency.


Authorities in Toledo issued an alert around 2 a.m. Saturday, warning residents not to consume any of its water after tests revealed the presence of a toxin possibly related to algae on Lake Erie. The warning applies to about 400,000 people in the area. By the afternoon, Ohio’s governor had declared a state of emergency.

The advisory also applies to a few Michigan communities that receive water from Toledo: Bedford Township, Erie Township, La Salle Township and Luna Pier.

Gov. John Kasich’s emergency order will allow the state to begin bringing water into the Toledo area. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said it’s too early to know how long the water advisory will stay in place.


Kasich said that all of the state’s agencies are trucking water and other supplies to affected areas in and around Toledo.

Tracey Rhodes said he had to travel nearly an hour away from his home in Toledo just to find some bottled water.

“I’m all the way in Taylor, Michigan right now,” Rhodes told WWJ’s Beth Fisher around 8 a.m. “Everything close to Toledo, everything is sold out. I already hit Monroe and Monroe is sold out of bottled water.”

The atmosphere at some stores reminded many people of “Black Friday,” with shoppers pushing carts full of bottled water, bags of ice and flavored water. A man on a mission, Rhodes said he’s looking to stockpile quite a bit of water, especially because a child is living in his home.

“I’m trying to buy a few days’ worth, some big bottles and about three cases of bottled water, because you don’t know how long this is going to last. You don’t want to assume nothing, you want to be prepared. You’ve got to have water,” he said.

Toledo leaders were setting up water distribution centers around the city, limiting families to one case of bottled water. Some stores that were receiving new shipments of water put limits on how much people can buy.

“We’re going to be prepared to make sure people are not without water,” said Mayor Collins, who pleaded with residents not to panic.

Mike Bosanac, with Monroe County’s emergency management office, said officials have set up two locations where Michigan residents affected by the advisory can get water.

“We’re providing tankers of non-potable water at the Bedford Township Hall and the Luna Pier Fire Station, where residents can go get non-potable water. We are now working on a source for potable water, bottled water if you will, that we can get out to those communities, but we have not confirmed that yet,” Bosanac said.

Terry Russeau, commissioner of Toledo’s water distribution, said officials issued the alert out of an abundance of caution after tests at one of the city’s treatment plants returned two sample readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption. Consuming the tainted water could result in vomiting, diarrhea and other problems.

“It’s dealing with the blue-green algae out in the lake, it produces what is called a microcystin, a harmful bacteria,” Russeau said. “We don’t know if there is actually a problem there or not, that’s why we’re sampling the water. It’s a precautionary measure working with the Ohio EPA.”


The city warned against boiling the water because it will only increase the toxin’s concentration. The advisory covers city residents and those in Lucas County served by the city’s water supply.

“We’re out sampling our distribution system right now and our first test should be coming back,” around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Russeau said.

Many restaurants were closed because of the water warning and Toledo’s public school system canceled all its events Saturday. The University of Toledo closed its campus for the day and encouraged students who are from outside the Toledo area to return to their homes.

Operators of water plants all along Lake Erie, which supplies drinking water for 11 million people, have been concerned over the last few years about toxins fouling their supplies.


Almost a year ago, one township just east of Toledo told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps after tests on drinking water showed the amount of toxins had increased. That was believed to be the first time a city has banned residents from using the water because of toxins from algae in the lake.

Most water treatment plants along the western Lake Erie shoreline treat their water to combat the algae. The city of Toledo spent about $4 million last year on chemicals to treat its water and combat the toxins.

The annual algae blooms have been concentrated around the western end of Lake Erie. The algae growth is fed by phosphorous mainly from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants, leaving behind toxins that can kill animals and sicken humans.

Toledo is home to about 280,000 people.


And News Last April 3, 2013 looked like this: 


Unsustainable Agriculture Sliming Lake Erie With Toxic Algae

Having recovered from several generations of sewage related industrial pollution, Lake Erie faces a new threat that is somewhat more insidious: a nasty toxic algae that coats about 20% of the lake surface with green slime. In addition to smelling bad, it is creating a growing dead zone at the lake bottom by sucking oxygen out of the water. A related effect, of course, is increasing the mortality rate for the fish population, who are more or less hanging on after the zebra mussel invasion, waiting for the Asian Carp. The heavy green stuff can actually clog boat motors and generate rotting masses of indistinguishable provenance to wash ashore and make beach goers disgusted.Runoff from the ever growing factory farms in Ohio combined with an unprecedented pattern of torrential spring rains are combining to create agricultural runoff in levels never seen before. The heavy rain falls wash phosphorus-based fertilizers from corn and soybean fields and into waterways, eventually changing the eco system of the lakes.

fish.jpg It’s large scale mono-culture farming at its best, as GMO driven farming practices have reduced plowing in favor of herbicides and fertilizer. In some instances, farmers can indeed produce more….for a while. But with problems such as green slime, dead zones, superpests and superweeds starting to pierce the dull smugness of corporate media, the rapidly rising cost of food might become an issue.This year, it’s supposed to get worse.

 This Audio Report August 8, 2013 brings perspective to the struggle:


Ohio farmer Terry McClure volunteered o be a test site for researchers studying how farm runoff fuels harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Sources:  Kged.orgLA TimesDetroit CBS Local


A Personal Response From Dave Webster (Living Off The Grid)

It's so easy to have struggles like this.  The good part is that the U.S. is a United Country with enough infrastructure that water can be shipped from all over to meet the needs to balance the shortfall of an area for now.  If something were to happen all over, the problem could be much greater.  I'm not sure if portable filters will work in this situation, reverse osmosis, distillation or not, and I would love some feedback and opinions.  

I had a surgery 8 years ago which rendered my stomach useless when the Vegas Nerve was cut.  Since then, I have problems when I drink water.  I drink Lactaid milk, Pina Colada Sobee, and sometimes Mountain Dew instead.  I went at one point over  5 years without water, so I know you can live without drinking it considering most drinks have filtered water in them.  It's the cooking and showers that pose the greatest risk to our health  

Having a backup plan is imperative for both municipalities and individuals.  Having a water well at home for rural properties is nice.  I suppose those of you who do can offer water to your neighbors, and start bottling for the grocery store if this goes on too long.  If the power goes out, an electric water well will stop working, unless you have solar.  My best recommendation is for a wind powered water pump.

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