Toxic algae bloom forces a State of Emergency in NW Ohio

Posted at 4:28 PM, Aug 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-03 03:22:30-04

Toledo, Ohio- Governor John Kasich has declared a state of emergency for two counties (Lucas and Wood) in northwest Ohio after a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie.

More than 400,000 people living in the Toledo area have been affected by this. The alert was issued around 2 a.m. Saturday morning warning residents to “Do not drink the water and do not boil the water.” Officials with the City of Toledo said that boiling the water will worsen the situation. It will not destroy the toxins, it will only increase them.

The Light Blue Green water in the western Basin of Lake Erie is the algae bloom. Courtesy: NOAA

According to the City of Toledo, chemists tested the water at the City of Toledo Water Treatment Plant, Saturday morning and received to readings for microcystin in excess of the recommended standard. This Blue-Green algae toxin can result in abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness.

Physician Reference for Blue-Green Algae

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is advising their residents to drink bottled water until the city gets an all clear from the State of Ohio, but are allowed to bathe and brush their teeth with the water, just as along as they don’t ingest the water.

This warning set off a panic with residents in the city of Toledo who had to go to grocery stores and other places to find bottled water, leaving many stores empty and people traveling to as far away as Ann Arbor and Sandusky in search of bottled water. Kroger told CNN all its stores in the Toledo have run out of water. Stores in the Columbus area, more than a two-hour drive away, are close to running out. More bottled water is on the way to its 15 stores in the affected area, said Kroger spokeswoman Jackie Siekmann.

“As soon as the water shipments are in, they are going out the front door,” she said.

Green leaf lettuce and other produce that is misted by water in Kroger stores will be thrown out as a precaution, Siekmann said. The National Guard has set up water stations around the city of Toledo according to CNN affiliate WTOL.

There are communities in southeast Michigan affected by this as well. The water ban has affected more than 30,000 residents in Luna Pier, LaSalle, Erie and Bedford Township all of which are in Monroe County. Michigan State Emergency Managers are monitoring the situation. “We are working with Monroe County emergency management to ensure they have everything needed to respond to this incident,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Our state stands ready and is doing everything we can to help during this water use ban.”

There has been no reports of people getting sick from the water as of Saturday night.

Test results on the water and the algae will not be ready until Sunday according to the City of Toledo.

The University of Toledo, The Toledo Zoo and many local businesses are shut down until the state of emergency.

Here is the alert from the city of Toledo.