Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keeping Your Water Safe from Algal Toxins

Avon Lake Regional Water works hard to provide safe, reliable, affordable water to your sink, toilet, shower, irrigation system—wherever and whenever you need it. All for about $1/day, we do this and then collect, clean, and return to Lake Erie the water you use.

One of the newest threats we protect you from is toxic algae. Water utilities, regulators, academics, and others are placing significant effort on improving understanding about microcystin and other toxins found in harmful algal blooms (HABs). Just last month, USEPA issued draft health advisory levels for microcystin. These health advisory levels are set to be finalized in June, and Ohio EPA is determining how to best implement them. Advisory levels are not regulations. They are guidelines. In establishing these advisory levels (guidelines) for microcystin, USEPA has published separate acceptable levels for children younger than school age and for all others. The guidelines have been set to where USEPA knows of no ill effects for people exposed to these levels for 10 days.

Avon Lake Regional Water monitors for microcystin in both the raw water coming in from Lake Erie and the finished water being sent into the distribution system and then to you. In 2014, microcystin was measured above detection limits in the raw water coming in from the lake only once. It was never measured above detection limits in the finished water we provide to you. Current predictions are for this year's algae bloom to be less severe than last year.

We are confident in our ability to remove microcystin through the treatment process. However, in case algal blooms get much worse (and to do double duty to help mitigate icing events), you will begin seeing major changes at our water filtration plant. Starting in July, a large hole will be excavated in the field across the street from the plant. That is where we will construct new clearwells that will store 2 million gallons of water for use during emergencies. During the next two years, we will construct these clearwells and additional pumping and emergency power generation facilities. We will also rehabilitate several filters to improve treatment ability and convert some existing basins to allow water to be recycled within the plant and reduce the burden on the wastewater treatment facility—thereby reducing our impact on Lake Erie.

These improvements will be made using money from the state revolving loan fund. Through a competitive application, approximately $23 million will be loaned at a 0% interest rate. That will save our customers more than $250,000 per year for the next 20 years. We have also qualified for the 0%-interest loans for the 3 million gallons of elevated storage and the emergency interconnection with Elyria we hope to construct within the next two years. The 0% interest for these two projects should save an additional $100,000 per year.

During the past year, Avon Lake Regional Water has installed additional abilities to detect harmful algal blooms and microcystin, begun the construction of treatment and storage improvements, initiated design of an emergency interconnection with a neighboring utility, and started conversations for emergency interconnection with another utility. We strongly embrace our mission to provide the region with quality water services and strive to meet our vision of being a trusted and treasured community asset that enhances quality of life.

Avon Lake Regional Water is your water and wastewater service provider. Questions/comments? Contact us via phone (440-933-6226), email (, social media (Facebook: /avonlakewater, Twitter @avonlakewater, Instagram: avonlakewater), or in person (201 Miller Road). You can also learn more by watching our semi-monthly Board Recap show on ALC-TV’s government channel (Time Warner 12 or WOW! 21) or logging on to to see recap shows or Board meetings. 

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