Toledo lifts drinking water restriction

Residents of Toledo, Ohio, can drink their municipal water, now that the city lifted restrictions set two days prior due to an algae-induced toxin.

Mayor Michael Collins announced Monday, “our water is safe” at a news conference that followed testing by state and federal authorities, according to the Toledo Blade. Tests showed no detectable levels of the toxin microcystin.

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Collins told residents and businesses to flush their water systems if they had not used water since Saturday, in order to get the toxins out. He also asked water users to avoid watering lawns, washing cars or other water-intensive tasks.

Collins had announced earlier Monday that some tests showed the water was safe, but he kept the advisory against drinking it in place, since tests were “too close for comfort for me.”

Toledo first restricted water drinking early Saturday morning, after officials found that microcystin had gotten through the eight-step filtering process the city uses, which prevented hundreds of thousands of area residents from drinking the water. State and federal authorities brought in bottled water throughout the weekend.

Toledo gets its water from Lake Erie, which is experiencing a seasonal algae bloom. Agricultural runoff, sewage and other factors have exacerbated the bloom, overwhelming the municipal treatment system.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) thanked the various authorities involved in the crisis.

“Now that the residents of the Toledo region have access to safe and clean drinking water, we must quickly pin-point how these elevated toxin levels occurred and work to ensure this does not happen again,” he said in a statement.

Portman sponsored legislation that President Obama signed this year that prioritizes federal funding for algae treatments to fresh water bodies, like Lake Erie.