Toledo mayor: US must focus on water quality
WASHINGTON (AP) — The mayor of Toledo, Ohio, is calling for the federal government’s full attention to improve water quality in America’s lakes and rivers, describing the toxic algae blooms that tainted his city’s water supply this summer as a danger “doomed to be repeated.”
Mayor Michael Collins appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday for the first time after microcystin toxins in Lake Erie fouled the tap water for 400,000 people in Ohio and Michigan for two days in August.
He said the “full force” of the governments of the United States and Canada, along the level of an executive order, is needed to address what he described as an international problem. More than 80 percent of the water in Lake Erie comes from the Great Lakes via the Detroit River, which helps form the U.S.-Canadian border.
“Don’t give this lip service. It’s a canary in the coal mine,” Collins said. “If we forget what happened in Toledo, it is doomed to be repeated.”
The water emergency that struck residents in parts of northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan put a spotlight on the lake’s algae problem, which has been growing for more than decade, and drew attention to Toledo’s aging water treatment system and how cities monitor their drinking water.
The mayor, a political independent, called on Congress to devote more research funding to more fully understand the causes, whether it’s because of a new formulation of fertilizers or invasive species in the lake. The Environmental Protection Agency also should move quickly to set a federal water quality standard for algae blooms, he said.
He said agriculture runoff likely plays a role, but little else is known.
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