34ºF

Algae bloom in Maumee River leaves Toledo residents concerned about water quality

Officials say water isn't dangerous to drink

TOLEDO, Ohio – The Maumee River in Toledo has looked like the Chicago River on Saint Patrick's Day over the past few weeks, but it's because of toxic algae, not harmless dye.

Toledo residents are on edge about the water being safe enough to drink.

In the summer, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan released a report predicting this year's algae bloom.

You can check the Toledo water quality dashboard here.

NOAA satellite pictures showed this is an especially large bloom, but as bad as it looks, it's not dangerous for the drinking water.

That's a small comfort for Toledo residents who were ordered not to drink the water three years ago.

Clarence Spencer has passed on tap water since that incident.

"I've been buying bottled water since it got back a few years back," Spencer said.

"This is clear compared to what it was the other day. This whole thing was really bad. Green. All these rocks were green."

The Maumee is a silt-bottom river, so it will never look blue like the Detroit River. But when it's pea green, it hurts fishing and restaurants.

Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson believes the time has come for outside help.

"Three letters have gone to President Trump," Hicks-Hudson said. "I sent a letter this past week to John Kasich, asking for the help needed."

The bloom is caused by farm runoff getting into the river. In order to fix the problem, they'll need to start using retention basins and putting the fertilizer deeper into the ground -- not easy or simple tasks.

It's been 10 years with the algae, and it could take 10 more to fix the problem, officials said.


About the Authors: