Drinking, bathing water ban lifted in Toledo, SE Mich after microcystin, cyanotoxin contamination

(WXYZ) - The ban on drinking water in Monroe and Toledo has been lifted.

Monroe County Emergency Manager Mark Hammond confirms the ban has been lifted in those areas.

Toledo city government officials say some residents will need to flush their pipes by running water for 15 minutes. This is only necessary if residents shut off their water on Friday and have not used it since.

The Toledo Lucas County Health Department provides the following instructions for residents and asks that everyone PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.

HOW TO FLUSH PLUMBING APPLIANCES
To protect the health and safety of our communities, we recommend that you read carefully and follow the steps for flushing plumbing appliances.

Ice makers
If you have an ice make in your refrigerator, first throw away all ice and then:
If you have a filter on your ice maker
Some refrigerators, with ice makers, also have filters on the small water line that feed the ice maker. If you have filters on your ice maker, you want to replace the filter AFTER flushing your refrigerator’s ice maker. These filters require routine replacement. This would be a good time to replace the filter to ensure that the water line to the ice maker is completely flushed. Some refrigerators also provide filtered cold water. Check to make sure that you have replaced any filter AFTER flushing cold water supply. Then flush cold-water dispenser for five minutes.
After flushing these lines, let the ice maker container fill up completely and discard this ice and clean the container before replacing. If you have more than one refrigerator make sure you perform the same procedure on those units as well.

Water filters
Clean or change your water filters, or contact the filter manufacturer for more details.

Water supplies for pets
Pets need clean water too. Be sure to empty all water bowls, bottles, or other water supplies for your pet. Wash the pet bowl, bottle or other water supply. Then refill with tap water.
· Point of entry/point of use devices (this may not apply to everyone)
If you have a Point of Entry water treatment system such as a water softener or filter, which all of the home’s water passes through before it enters the main plumbing system, you should consider the following general guidelines before completing your household plumbing flushing.

Water Softeners:
Household water softener, which uses a natural or synthetic resin material to exchange sodium for calcium and magnesium present in the water, should be manually regenerated before flushing your plumbing system. This will ensure that the softener resin has been backwashed and cleaned before flushing procedures begin. If you are unsure of how to manually initiate a regeneration cycle, refer to your softener owner’s manual or call your equipment supplier for assistance.

Sediment Filters:
Household water filters usually fall into two basic categories:
1. Pressure filters, which can be backwashed to clean.
2. Cartridge filters, which have a replaceable element or cartridge.
If your home has a pressure filter that can be backwashed, you should initiate a manual backwash of the filter before proceeding with, and after completing, the flushing procedures. If you have a whole house cartridge filter system, you should replace the cartridges after completing the flushing procedures.

Point of use filters/treatment:
If you have or use Point of Use filters, which are typically attached to your kitchen faucet you should replace the filter before using the faucet-connected unit. These filters require periodic replacement anyway so this would be a good time to do this.

Reverse Osmosis:
Reverse Osmosis drinking water treatment often have pre-filters, which you may want to replace before flushing the RO System. However the actual Reverse Osmosis membrane module should not require replacement. If the manufacturer of the membrane suggests that you replace this part of the system you should ask them to give you the specific reasons why.

Contaminated water from the Toledo water system forced an emergency ban on water usage beginning Saturday in both Toledo and several southeast Michigan communities within Monroe County.

Tests showed that the water had high amounts of microcystin, a cyanotoxin that can cause abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness or dizziness.  Skin contact with contaminated water could cause irritation or rashes.

Officials say Lake Erie, which is the source of drinking water for Toledo, was impacted by a harmful algal bloom. These occur when excess nitrogen and phosphorus are present in lakes and streams.

The warning applied to those whose water comes from the Collin Park Water Treatment Plant in Toledo, through the South County Water Agreement. In Michigan, this includes the cities of Bedford, La Salle, Erie and Luna Pier.

Water could not be used for drinking or bathing nor was it safe to give to pets. The problem also could not be corrected by boiling the water, and in fact only made the issue worse. Water filters, such as Brita, would not remove the contamination.

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