A presidential order may be necessary to set standards to combat toxic algae blooms which are harming bodies of water across the United States, an Ohio mayor testified to a Senate committee last week.
Lifestyles, livelihoods and economies hang in the balance during toxic algae blooms, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins told the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee last week. Collins said the U.S. needs to draw up a nationwide battle plan to control the toxic invaders, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
Algae blooms occur as a result of the runoff of pollutants and chemicals – like fertilizers and sewage – into rivers, lakes and large bodies of water. The algae, which scientists say are actually bacteria, feed off the pollutants, then multiply, choke off oxygen to fish and aquatic creatures, and emit gasses and material that is dangerous to humans and their pets.
Collins said Toledo is not alone in the battle and it should be a national top priority to avoid health orders, such as the “do not consume” order his city issued last August as a result of a toxic bloom.
The poison infestation last summer forced city officials in Toledo to tell residents in the region not to drink or wash food with their tap water for 72 hours. That had implications across the local economy and lifestyle.
Collins testified before the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee that the “do not consume” order had a $2.2 to $2.5 million economic impact on his region. Retailers were forced to dispose of fresh produce that had been washed in the tainted water, and restaurants weren’t able to use water for cooking.
The rapidly mounting invasion of toxic algae is an issue of concern to farmers, consumers, businesses and the environment. Algae blooms are dangerous to health and economies worldwide.
Recently, among the other regions to issue “do not consume” orders related to algae blooms were:
- The Oregon Health Authority, which on Thursday issued an advisory against water contact in Jackson County as a bloom was discovered at Lost Lake Creek.
- Saanich, British Columbia, Canada, where officials warned swimmers, boaters and pet owners to avoid Beaver Lake and Elk Lakes following tests that indicated the presence of toxic algae.
- Canterbury District Health Board issued a health warning for people to avoid contact with water from Kahutara River, a major waterway that runs in Southern New Zealand.
Photo: In this file photo from 2007, sea lions, poisoned by toxic domoic acid, the result of an unusually large bloom of microscopic ocean algae that sickened and killed California birds, sea lions and dolphins from San Francisco to San Diego, are treated at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, Calif. (Photo : Getty Images)