EPA recommends 'Source Water Protection Plan,' but Toledo doesn' - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

EPA recommends 'Source Water Protection Plan,' but Toledo doesn't have one yet

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A photo of Lake Erie taken via satellite on Aug. 5, 2014. A photo of Lake Erie taken via satellite on Aug. 5, 2014.
(Toledo News Now) -

Could an event one year ago in Carroll Township have prevented the water crisis of the past weekend in Toledo? Toledo News Now Meteorologist Ryan Wichman went in search of answers on Tuesday.

"We have had warning before, but Carroll Township last year was the first time we had a public drinking water system shut down on Lake Erie, and I think that should have been a pivotal point," said Sandy Bihn, executive director of Lake Erie Waterkeeper. "Instead, many elected officials – both local and federal – never heard of it, so it didn't set off the alarms."

What could have been done? It's called a ‘Source Water Protection Plan.'

It's a comprehensive plan, which the EPA strongly recommends for each community. A committee would assess the community's current drinking water situation and then create a protection plan.

Right now, there is no protection plan in place for the City of Toledo.

"It would define problems near the intake and a little further out from the intake," Bihn said. "And it would find if there are ways to actually reduce intake sources."

While a protection plan is not a requirement of the EPA, it is recommended. To guard communities against economic loss, medical costs, or in some cases forcing communities to find alternative drinking water for periods of time.

Sound familiar? While the Source Water Protection Plan is listed as a 2014 priority of the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Plan, one is not in place today, and officials believe it will take until past the end of this year to complete a plan.

"Ohio EPA has staff that are assigned to do these tasks," Bihn said. "I would think this would rise right to the top, right away. In terms of time, I would hope it could be done in six months. They could get an outline of one done and we don't have that now, it's critically needed." 

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