Annual boat cruise teaches passengers about Toledo's water quality

Published: Aug. 5, 2018 at 10:13 PM EDT
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Algae blooms happen every year in Lake Erie. However, Toledo's water crisis four years ago was rare.

Sunday was the 4th annual Water Quality Boat Cruise aboard the Sandpiper.

Marlene Fox has enjoyed this cruise on the Maumee River three years in a row.

"Just always learn something new. Something you missed the time before," said Fox.

This boat cruise takes place each year on the anniversary of the Toledo water crisis in 2014.

Four years ago a large algal bloom in Lake Erie entered Toledo's water supply, which caused the city tap water to be unsafe.

Toledoans couldn't drink or bathe in the city's water for days.

Water experts aboard the Sandpiper showed passengers the current water quality of the river.

"He passed the results around and it was slightly green, but he had if it was blue then in would be very terrible. It would be the poisonous, but the light green, it was OK, it was normal," said Fox.

One of those experts is Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, an ecology professor and the director of Lake Erie Center at University of Toledo.

Dr. Bridgeman says even though Lake Erie has algae blooms every year, there hasn't been a water crisis since for several reasons.

"The blooms in some cases have been smaller or have not gotten near the Toledo water intake and we also have much better advanced warning now. So the water treatment plants know when the blooms are coming and can be prepared for them much better than they could in 2014," said Dr. Bridgeman.

There are ways the average Toledoan can help keep our drinking water clean, to prevent a future crisis.

"Don't put grease down the drain," said Fox.

"Being careful with lawn fertilizer and disposing of trash properly and things like that," said Dr. Bridgeman.

"The Maumee River, downtown Toledo, western Lake Erie... is a wonderful place. Yes, we have a crisis sometimes, we have algal blooms, but it's still a great place to be," said Dr. Bridgeman.