Officials stress Toledo's water safe to drink, leaders express outrage over bloom

Officials stress Toledo's water safe to drink, leaders express outrage over bloom
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Despite the Water Quality Dashboard continuing to be on 'clear' status, the quality of the water in Lake Erie and now in the Maumee River is causing concern among residents and leaders in Toledo.

Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson stood with officials at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant to quell rumors the water is not safe to drink. She promised the city would quickly tell citizens if the dashboard changed.

Despite this, rumors that the water is not safe continue to persist in the Glass City. Those rumors, coupled with the disgusting images of green algae in the Maumee River, is sparking outrage among leaders on all levels of the government.

Councilwoman Lindsay Webb says she is disgusted with the water in the lake and river.

She says the water is hurting the time outside with her children. They cannot swim in the lake with their friends. She also says her kids talked about the bloom with their friends.

Webb says while the drinking water is no doubt a concern, there is a true economic issue at stake as well.

Sam Melden, who is running for the city council, says the bloom is costing the region millions of dollars in real estate, tourism and other recreational money that comes into the state.

Melden says now is time we get serious about this asset to our community.

"A clean Lake Erie is the foundation of our community," Melden said. "Toledo is a water community. It's not just Point Place, it's not just Oregon and east Toledo, it's not just people along the river, it's everyone in the city of Toledo."

Councilwoman Webb says it is important for residents to urge state and federal legislators to get involved.

Senator Sherrod Brown says declaring the lake impaired is meaningless if action is not taken by the Trump administration.

"I'm less concerned on whether we designate impaired or not than I am on actually moving, getting the [Trump] administration to focus on it the way they should," Sen. Brown said. "The administration has the ability through budgeting on the Great Lakes Initiative, through implementing of the farm bill, through updating the conservation titles of the farm bill."

Among the state officials wanting to get involved is former state representative and gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton, who visited Toledo Thursday.

She focused on the threat of pollution of Lake Erie and what that could mean for the northwest Ohio region.

She also says more needs be done about farmers.

"This is about ratcheting up the action, ratcheting up the leadership. This is about getting us off the mark to actually accomplish something on this issues," Sutton said. "And certainly we want farmers to be a part of this because they are important to the state of Ohio. What they do is important to the state of Ohio."

Toledo's Director of Public Utilities says the city actually goes above and beyond the Ohio EPA protocols to ensure transparency with the public when it comes to the drinking water.

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