Nearly 400,000 residents in Ohio's fourth-largest city were told not to consume tap water for nearly three days after a toxin, likely from Lake Erie, was found in the water supply – and a Minnesota company is stepping in to help affected residents.
The water ban in Toledo was lifted Monday, but the problems aren't over. Because some of the tainted water could still be in pipes leading to peoples' homes, they've been instructed to run their water to make sure there's no residual contamination, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People are also instructed to change their water filters because they could be contaminated.
Because of this, a Minnesota company is helping out. WaterFilters.net, which is based in Zumbrota, Minnesota, said in a post on Facebook it is offering a 10 percent discount on water filters with the coupon code "OHIO." The Associated Press says WaterFilters.net is also sending free filters to its customers in the Toledo area.
Mike Yanke of WaterFilters.net told the Associated Press the filters they sell help in the process of flushing out water lines after "boil-water orders."
Could this happen in Lake Superior?
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During the water ban, people in Toledo were told not to consume, cook with or boil the tap water after microcystin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abnormal liver function, was found in the water supply, reports say.
The city's drinking water comes from Lake Erie, where a harmful algae bloom that causes microcystin has been growing, CNN reports. Certain conditions, such as excess nutrients like phosphorus, and high light levels can cause algae to produce rapidly, which then forms a dense population called a bloom, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Phosphorus and other nutrients can get washed into lakes or carried into them via tributaries from various sources, including farms, soil erosion and septic systems, the U.S. Geological Survey notes. This has been an ongoing problem in Lake Erie, NOAA notes. The New York Times has an article that dives into Lake Erie's ongoing water problems.
What happened with Lake Erie's water supply isn't likely to happen in Lake Superior, however. The lake supplies drinking water to residents in Duluth, Superior and surrounding communities, but they don't have to worry about a similar water ban.
The Duluth News Tribune says Lake Superior lacks large-scale, intensive agriculture, and that, coupled with the lake's cold water and depth, prevent the kind of toxic algae bloom found in Lake Erie.
Officials with the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota, Duluth told the Duluth News Tribune Lake Superior doesn't get over fertilized with nutrients like Lake Erie, in part because of the lake's smaller watershed district, its cold temperatures and its size, which all limit the growth of algae.