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Ohio EPA Sets New Guildelines For Reporting Harmful Algae Blooms

photo of algae

Ohio will soon require some public water systems -- including some of Ohio's largest -- to monitor and report harmful algae blooms that are in the surface water they use to supply customers.

The new Ohio EPA guidelines apply to systems that pull their drinking water from sources such as Lake Erie.

Ohio is one of the first states in the country to enact such guidelines.  State EPA spokesman James Lee says the new rules are specific to harmful algal blooms – or HABs – and related toxins.

“The focus is on ... ensuring that surface water is monitored correctly and getting a good idea on how many public water systems throughout the state may have HABs in their source water.”

Lee adds that the new rules are due to continued occurrences of the blooms in lakes, rivers and other sources of drinking water.

“Especially when significant rainfall causes phosphorus to enter waterways; it really fuels these HABs.  Monitoring and reporting programs for public water systems previously were voluntary.  These new rules will assist Ohio EPA to better understand the extent to which HABs are occurring across the state.”

Lee says the EPA has spent more than a year formulating the new guidelines with input from public water systems throughout the state.

The rules go into effect June 1, and establish guidelines for when water systems need to take action. They also require systems to submit treatment plans if toxins are detected.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. While a Kent State student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.