Department: Cleveland water remains safe to drink

Department: Cleveland water remains safe to drink
Toledo city officials found evidence of an algae contaminant in the public water system. (Source: WTOL)
Toledo city officials found evidence of an algae contaminant in the public water system. (Source: WTOL)
Northwestern Ohio residents are warned not to drink the water. Officials say northeastern Ohio residents have no reason for concern at this time. (Source: MGN)
Northwestern Ohio residents are warned not to drink the water. Officials say northeastern Ohio residents have no reason for concern at this time. (Source: MGN)
Lines are long and supplies are short at Toledo area stores, as residents wait for more water. (Source: WTOL)
Lines are long and supplies are short at Toledo area stores, as residents wait for more water. (Source: WTOL)
An Ohio State Highway Patrolman leaving a Toledo water treatment plant with samples. (Source: WTOL)
An Ohio State Highway Patrolman leaving a Toledo water treatment plant with samples. (Source: WTOL)
In response to the reports of Toledo issuing a warning to its residents to not drink the water, Cleveland Water assures its customers that the water is safe to drink and continues to meet high-quality standards. 

(WOIO) - "Cleveland water is safe to drink and use as normal right now," said Jason Wood, with the Cleveland Department of Public Utilities. "Toledo sits in the different part of Lake Erie; it sits in the Western Basin. Cleveland sits in the Central Basin. So, the water in the Western Basin is a little shallower, a little more agriculture in that region."

The water department has issued the following statement:

The Central Basin of Lake Erie that supplies Cleveland Water currently does not have the degree of algal growth that the Western Basin does. Our water supply remains safe and continues to be treated and distributed as normal. 

Cleveland Water has strategies in place to mitigate any increase in algae. We are continuously monitoring satellite imagery for algal blooms and have access to real-time data on lake conditions. We are in communication with other Lake Erie water systems and we are participating with the US EPA in monitoring for algal toxins. There have been no detects from Cleveland water to date. Our four water treatment plants are all closely monitoring incoming lake water for any indication of problems and are working hard to ensure quality water for the people we serve. 

We want to reassure our customers that we will monitor the situation around the clock, will take action if necessary to appropriately treat our water, and will notify our customers immediately if anything changes.

There is no word on when toxin levels are expected to reduce, but another round of testing is expected Saturday evening. Water samples are being flown from Toledo to labs in Cincinnati for more testing.

Earlier Saturday, Gov. John R. Kasich expanded a state emergency for Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties, since Toledo city officials found evidence of an algae contaminant in the public water system and have advised around 400,000 residents not to drink the water. Officials say it was most likely caused by foreign fertilizer that ran off into Lake Erie, causing the harmful algae bloom.
The governor's declaration allows state government to maximize the use of its resources to support local authorities in addressing this situation. The state Emergency Operation Center was activated earlier Saturday.

State and local officials are working together to arrange for drinking water to be shipped into the affected areas. Bottled water is selling out at various stores around northwest Ohio, but is being provided at designated areas by officials.

The following are recommendations for residents who receive water service through the Toledo water system:

- Do not drink the water. Alternative water should be used for drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth and preparing food.
- Do not boil the water. Boiling the water will not destroy the contaminants.
- Do not let pets or livestock drink the water.
- Do not let children bathe in the water since they may accidentally ingest it.
- Hand washing is allowed.
- Showering is allowed for adults.

The contaminant Microcystin is a product of blue-green algae and is naturally found in Ohio lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams. The health effects could result in numbness and dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abnormal liver function, skin irritation or rashes. Contact your veterinarian immediately if pets or livestock show illness.

Stay with 19 Action News for more on this developing story.

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