Why Ohio drinking water ban continues Monday morning

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said early Monday morning that the drinking water ban will continue. Toxins from Lake Erie have been blamed for the contamination of the drinking water.

Toledo's mayor says the latest tests suggest the city's tap water is probably safe, but he's keeping in place an advisory against drinking or using it.

Mayor D. Michael Collins said at a 3 a.m. news conference Monday that it was his decision to keep the advisory in place at least into the morning hours, even though latest test results suggest the algae-induced toxin has probably dissipated to safe levels by now.

Collins says two tests have come back "too close for comfort." He plans another update at 9 a.m. Monday.

The water ban in northwest Ohio entered its third day Monday, leaving more than 400,000 residents to continue scrambling for water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Ohio's fourth-largest city first warned residents not to use city water early Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption, most likely from algae on the lake. The advisory affected residents in northwestern Ohio and southwestern Michigan. Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency.

With the warning, worried residents told not to drink, brush their teeth or wash dishes with the water descended on truckloads of bottled water delivered from across the state. The Ohio National Guard was using water purification systems to produce drinkable water.

Water distribution centers will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday.

As The Christian Science Monitor reported Sunday,  toxins in the water have been linked to an algae bloom in Lake Erie, which is a primary source of drinking water for many Ohio communities.

But phosphorous levels don't fully explain what scientists are seeing in Lake Erie. For example, phosphorous levels were higher in 2007 than in 2011, yet the 2011 bloom was larger. Scientists are investigating whether rising temperatures connected with climate change could be intensifying the blooms.

"It is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, the warmest and the most susceptible to ... the effects of climate change," states a 2013 report by the Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority, a task force of the International Joint Commission.

Climate change could also be bringing more intense spring rains, which would wash more agricultural runoff into Lake Erie, the report notes..

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