Over recent weeks, the algae blooms have become much more
widespread across Lake Erie, and that's resulting in the City of Toledo
spending more green to keep its drinking water clean.
Chemistry lab technicians at Toledo's water treatment
plant are keeping a close watch on the satellite images of the algae blooms in
Lake Erie. The water coming into the plant is looking greener these days, but
the water going out remains at safe drinking levels.
"We were prepared," said Treatment Plant Administrator Andy
McClure. "We knew there was an algae bloom coming. They also monitor pH of the
water. The algae will tend to drive the pH a little higher."
As more algae
comes in, the city is spending an additional $3,000/day to treat that water
with chemicals, such as carbon and alum.
"We feed additional carbon to absorb the compounds that
cause the taste and odor problems, and we'll feed a little extra alum," McClure
said. "We get better flocculation in the plant to settle it out."
Flocculation is basically the process to get the bad
stuff to stick together and settle to the bottom of the tanks before water is
pumped out for final treatment.
"It's when you destroy those cells you get the taste and
odor problems. Our real goal is to settle it out and treat it," he said.
The extra money being spent is coming out of the same
water operating fund which the city uses to repair broken water main lines.
"It's all out of the operating fund that goes towards
your water," said McClure. "It comes out of your water bills. It's money that
could be used elsewhere if we didn't use it on chemicals."
McClure says water plant staffers and chemists are at the
facility around the clock to make sure the drinking water is safe.