One week ago, a water ban was lifted for the city of Toledo, Ohio, signaling the end of a water crisis. During the previous weekend, residents in the area were advised to NOT drink or cook with the water, even if it had been boiled. The water was also banned from being given to pets or being used to shower for children and those who are sick. Residents were forced to use bottled water for everything, having to wait in line for it at local fire stations or drive out of town where water was safe. The ban was put into effect early on Saturday, August 2, 2014 and lasted until Monday, August 4, 2014.

Algae-contaminated water from Lake Erie. Photo from NYT.

The reason for the initial ban? Algae. The problem was brought on by farm run-off and sludge from nearby sewage treatment plants. These problems did not just appear out of thin air. They have actually been building up for years. Wind and waves dove the algae toward the shore, instead of it drifting into the middle of the lake, which is what commonly happens. Is that all it takes to cause contamination of drinking water? Winds and water current… Both of which are common for areas that surround a lake. Algae blooms were a problem in the 60s and 80s, but they largely disappeared by the early 2000’s.

Recently, they are resurfacing as a problem again. Although the ban has been lifted, nearby residents are still wary of the water’s safety. Many are unsure of the toxin levels in the water that they have trusted to use throughout the previous months and years. And what about going into the rest of the summer? Is it going to remain “safe” for long? Or should Toledo residents be prepared for another contamination in the future?

According to multiple Gallup polls conducted over 20 years (most recently in 2008), contaminated drinking water was the top public health concern in America, followed by water pollution, soil contamination, wildlife conservation, or air pollution. That concern became a reality for those Toledo residents. Some residents are concerned about what the authorities are doing to prevent an issue like this from happening in the future. If hundreds of thousands of people lining up to get bottled water next to the largest supply of fresh water in the world isn’t a huge wake up call, what is?

Residents of Toledo, Ohio relied on bottled water. Photo from NYT.

If anything good came from this incident, it’s that the publicity sparked discussion on how to stop pollutants from contaminating the lake, and other lakes that supply drinking water to residents. People are finally realizing that contaminations like these are simply unacceptable.

Lake Erie supplies water for 11 million people who live on or near the lake’s shore. Environmental groups are calling on Ohio and other states in the Great Lakes region to greatly reduce the amount a phosphorus that goes into water. This past spring, lawmakers created a new requirement that farmers go through training before they can use fertilizers on their field and crops. Progress is being shown, but it is questionable if the change is drastic enough or happening fast enough.

Budget Dumpster is very concerned with sustainability. When you rent a dumpster with us, we dispose of your materials in the best way possible so that it does not harm the environment. Contact us today if you are interested in doing a cleanup of your home while also keeping the planet clean.     Sources from the New York Times, NPR, and USA Today