Toledo mayor requests help to avoid water problems

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Toledo's mayor wants state and federal officials, starting with President Barack Obama, to take action in cleaning up Lake Erie and helping cities improve their water treatment operations in order to prevent future water emergencies.

Government help is needed to "preserve our health and quality of life," Mayor D. Michael Collins said in a letter sent to elected officials on Monday, just a week after the city's two-day emergency left 400,000 people without service because toxins were found in the water supply.

"Toledo and many other cities impacted by this threat need additional resources, not only to make improvements to water treatment facilities but to minimize the economic impact insecurity that water quality concerns can create," Collins said according to an excerpt of the letter provided to The Blade newspaper ( ).

Blooms of blue-green algae have been on the rise in western Lake Erie in recent years and have become a threat to not only drinking water but also fish and tourism.

The algae growth is fed by phosphorus mainly from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants, leaving behind toxins that have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can't survive. The toxins can kill animals and sicken people.

Collins said he did not ask for a specific amount of money or advocate for specific legislation in the letter also sent to Gov. John Kasich.

He did say more resources are needed to research and find ways to reduce or eliminate the algae blooms.

Toledo officials have said that a recent bloom was centered right where Toledo draws its water and overwhelmed the water supply. But the emergency also drew attention to the city's water treatment plant, which was built about 70 years ago.

City leaders have said the water plant's deteriorating condition had nothing to do with the toxins getting into the drinking water.