August 2019

Five Years Ago Today

This year marks the five-year anniversary of the “Do Not Drink Tap Water Advisory” for people in the City of Toledo’s water service area. In the early morning hours of August 2, 2014, around 400,000 residents in Northwestern Ohio woke up to hear from the local media that they should not drink tap water supplied by the city’s treatment plant due to contamination concerns associated with a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) in Lake Erie.

The Northwestern Water and Sewer District supplies around 6,500 customers in Northern Wood County with water treated at Toledo’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant. When we received notification from the City regarding the contaminated water, The District moved quickly to offer free drinking water from our WaterShed at our Middleton Pike location, which uses water treated by the City of Bowling Green. The District also provided bottled water and advised people to use water from surrounding water systems that were not impacted by the “Do Not Drink Tap Water Advisory.”

The District, along with countless other municipal water distributors and treatment agencies locally and across our nation, learned much as a result of this water crisis. The City of Toledo has invested $350 million in improvements to The Collins Park Treatment Plant, and it has improved outreach to the public and to its suburban partners that purchase treated water from Toledo. National and local research continues to look into the complex causes of HABs and the effects they can have on water supplies. All of this has improved our water quality in Northwest Ohio, and our ability to respond to HAB threats.

But HABs still exist in Lake Erie, and so does the fear of another “Do Not Drink Advisory”. As a precaution, The District has taken many steps to increase redundancy throughout our entire water distribution system, regardless of who supplies your water.

Because we distribute water from various municipal sources including Bowling Green, Oregon, Toledo, Fostoria, and the Village of McComb, The District can offer water from a variety of sources at our WaterShed locations spread throughout our service area. If another emergency does occur, we can deactivate the purification units to supply tap water in select locations not impacted by HABs.

With all these steps taken, we know there is still concern regarding water quality during HAB season. Here are a few things all of us can do to prepare for water emergencies.

If you are concerned about HABs:

  1. Know where your water comes from. Visit Who provides my water!
  2. Sign up for emergency notifications. Please be sure your information is updated.
  3. The federal emergency management agency also recommends you keep a supply of water for all types of disasters. List of items for the emergency supply kit

Jerry Greiner