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Toledo Watches Water As Algae Blooms Return To Lake Erie

Algae blooms in Lake Erie have caused problems with Toledo's drinking water.

For one city on Lake Erie, it's the season for monitoring toxic algae blooms – and drinking water.

Toledo know how dangerous the blooms can be. In 2014, toxins contaminated its water supply, forcing a "do not drink or boil” advisory for two days.

The city recently downgraded its water quality ratingfrom "clear" to "watch." That came after the level of a very dangerous toxin called microcystin rose in Lake Erie.

However, Toledo stresses that microcystin is not in tap water, just in the lake and near the water intake crib.

Now, the city is treating drinking water to remove the toxin. And it’s watching levels of microcystin, which is more toxic than cyanide and can make humans and pets sick.

It’s a byproduct of the algae blooms created by fertilizer runoff and other problems in western Lake Erie. During an algae bloom, the lake might look green, with floating layers of scum.

The latest harmful algae bloom bulletinfor western Lake Erie shows the bloom continuing along the Michigan and Ohio coasts, but decreasing in toxicity. This year is predicted to be one of the largest blooms on record.

Reporter/producer Elizabeth Miller joined ideastream after a stint at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she served as an intern on the National Desk, pitching stories about everything from a gentrified Brooklyn deli to an app for lost dogs. Before that, she covered weekend news at WAKR in Akron and interned at WCBE, a Columbus NPR affiliate. Elizabeth grew up in Columbus before moving north to attend Baldwin Wallace, where she graduated with a degree in broadcasting and mass communications.