The city of Akron is the first city in the United States to begin using a handheld monitoring device to measure algae levels in the drinking water.
The city started using the device last week to measure algae in the Lake Rockwell Reservoir, located in Kent, Akron’s primary source for drinking water. Cyanobacteria, or toxic algae, is known to be detrimental to water supplies.
The device was developed in the Netherlands by BlueLeg Monitor, and designed to quickly measure a number of factors, including the presence of algae, which has become a threat to water utilities across the country. The quick detection will provide Akron officials with more prompt responses to algae and could minimize its effects.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has been at the forefront of this issue and has set aggressive testing standards for algal toxins, resulting in “do not drink advisories” for a number of communities, including the one issued by the City of Toledo last summer that affected nearly 500,000 Toledo water customers. On June 15, the U.S. EPA released national drinking water health advisory standards for toxic algae.
“When we learned about the availability of this technology, we wanted to be the first utility in the country to test it,” said Jeff Bronowski, Water Supply Bureau Manager.
Bronowski also notes other city efforts toward drinking water safety:
- The City of Akron was the founding member of the Akron Global Water Alliance, a group dedicated to identifying the best available technologies to address emerging water quality issues and spur economic development by improving access to clean, high quality drinking water. The BlueLeg Monitor was identified through this group’s work.
- This past April, the Alliance hosted the 2015 U.S. Algal Toxin Conference, which brought nearly 30 expert presenters and more than 200 water professionals from around the world to Akron to educate them on the algal toxin issue.
- In addition, for nearly two years, Akron has hosted a series of quarterly water utility operator forums for the superintendents of Northeast Ohio’s water utilities, where they meet to discuss algae and other drinking water issues.
- The City of Akron also has extensive research projects underway with the City of Akron Drinking Water Laboratory, the University of Akron and the Netherlands Water Alliance.
- This year marks 100 years that the City of Akron’s Water Supply Bureau has been pumping drinking water from the Lake Rockwell reservoir. Today, the Bureau provides approximately 35 million gallons a day of drinking water to customers in the City of Akron and neighboring communities throughout Summit County.
For more information, visit www.akronohio.gov/water, or call (330) 678-0077.