IT CAN BE EASY TO TAKE CLEAN DRINKING WATER FOR GRANTED in many parts of the world—just turn on a tap and out it flows, crys- tal clear and perfectly thirst-quenching. But what if tiny organisms were releasing dangerous toxins into your tap water? What if drink- ing that water meant risking liver damage or even death? In the summer of 2014, this scenario became a reality for the
half-million residents in Toledo, Ohio, a city on the shore of Lake Erie.
The city’s water was deemed unsafe due to toxins released by algae.
Concerned that the toxins could potentially cause health problems for
local residents, whose tap water comes from the lake, the city turned to
truckloads of bottled water for their everyday water needs until toxin
levels dropped after three days.
The Science of Algal Blooms
By Rebecca Heisman
In August 2014, students from Central
Catholic High School handed out
bottled water to East Toledo residents
when a massive algal bloom shut
down the local water supply.