BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Blue-green algae prompted a ban on tap water in Toledo, Ohio last week, prompting Erie County to conduct extra testing.
County officials test the water for bacteria levels near the beaches every year, but this testing was different. Over the past few days the NY State Health Department tested for toxins, more specifically microcystin, which is the toxin that is in the algae near Toledo that affected the drinking water there last weekend.
The tests on this end of the lake are in, and the results, as expected, show no traces of the toxic algae here. Part of the reason is because NY State regulates the phosphorus in agricultural fertilizer more than Indiana and Ohio on the other end of the lake.
Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner said, “Historically, we see this on the western part of Lake Erie, but again the micro environment is different, more shallow in the western part of the lake. So again the concentration of the micro nutrients is greater, the water temperature is greater, so even though we share the lake, we share shores, it’s not the exact same environment.”
“The area around Lake Erie in the eastern basin of the lake where we are is much different from the micro environment in the western basin of the lake and so we have not yet encountered a problem with the blue-green algae which most summers historically that western part of Lake Erie has had problems,” Dr. Burstein added.
Erie County Health Department has never done this particular type of water testing but starting next month, the county will have that capability thanks to new equipment.